Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Lane Hutson is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Chicago, Illinois. Hutson’s father, Rob Hutson played NCAA hockey for the University of Illinois-Chicago in the 1990s and is currently an assistant coach for the North Jersey Avalanche 16U AAA. Rob was previously a video scout for the Arizona Coyotes and served as head coach for both, Team Illinois and Barrington High School’s varsity team. Lane has two brothers, Quinn and Cole. Quinn plays for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks and a Boston University commit. Cole plays for the North Jersey Avalanche 16U AAA club and is a 2024 NHL Draft eligible prospect.
Hutson currently plays for the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP) and is a Boston University commit. Before joining the USNTDP, he played for Team Illinois 13U AAA, Honeybaked 14U AAA and North Jersey Avalanche 16U AAA.
Hutson is slated to join Boston University for the 2023-2024 season. Interestingly enough by that point, Domenick Fensore (Carolina Hurricanes prospect), who has a similar body frame to Huston, will have just completed his senior year. Fensore is currently a junior. This is pure speculation, but I believe that the intent is to have Hutson essentially take Fensore’s spot when he is ready to make the jump to the AHL and/or NHL. Fensore’s development has gone according to plan and he’s become a far more efficient defender in all three zones at BU. BU head coach Albie O’Connell and his coaching staff have worked hard to get Fensore ready for the next step. I’m confident in their ability to develop Hutson, who plays a similar game to Fensore and has a similar build (as mentioned above).
D.O.B – February 14, 2004
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –148 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Hutson’s Style Of Play
Hutson is a very mobile shifty defenseman and he truly uses that to his advantage in the offensive zone. He uses his mobility to shift around attackers, get open ice, get closer towards the slot and attempt a pass to medium or high danger.
Hutson will use the same shiftiness on the blue line to get away from tight pressure.
Not only is Hutson shifty with his mobility, but he will also use body language and shrug his shoulders when trying to fake out the attacker right before he shifts around the attacker.
Hutson likes to use slap shot fakes on the power play to try to garner some more open ice for himself when working along the blue line. If he can confuse the attacker, that allows him to pivot out and grab some open ice to make a quick pass before the attacker manages to catch back up to him.
As stated above, Hutson will pinch up with the puck and attempt to pass the puck down the boards to his teammate behind the net in the offensive zone. Will pinch up when he sees loose pucks coming down the boards and he has an opportunity to get to the puck before his attackers do to in order to keep the NTDP offensive zone play alive.
There are times where he needs to be slightly more cautious as he will get caught up too high in the offensive zone, puck possession is given up and he is too far up which leaves his defensive partner in the lurch. The defender then has to solely handle the responsibilities of defending against the oppositional breakout.
When it comes to puck possession and maintaining puck possession, Hutson uses his mobility to keep a tight hold on the puck. If pressure is coming for him, he will turn his back to the pressure and position the puck in front of his body. Essentially he uses his back as a barrier or a shield to make it a challenge for the attacker to strip possession of the puck. He does this because he doesn’t have the upper body strength to push the puck far enough to the side. So, he will turn his back to the attacker to make sure that he can hold onto the puck. Sometimes, he has some tricks up his sleeve to get away from pressure. Check out this clip of Hutson lobbing the puck above that attacker’s stick and then recaptures possession of the puck. Awesome move to dance around pressure.
Hutson is a quality puck distributor in the offensive zone. He has soft and quick hands. If he sees a gap and a teammate at net-front, he will exploit it and wire a crisp pass to his teammate. But, that doesn’t mean that he just sits back at the blue line and waits for opportunities. As mentioned above, he jumps up and skates down low. Hutson will skate up from the point to behind the net and try passes to medium danger or net front. If he is skating and sees that he has a passing option without going behind the red line, he doesn’t overthink it. He takes that lane and takes it quickly. That has led to quality cross ice feeds to open forwards. In those situations where he has an attacker directly on him in the offensive zone past the perimeter (towards the slot), he will try behind the back passes to a teammate. He doesn’t have any more room to exploit, so a behind the back pass to a teammate is a good attempt by Hutson to keep the cycle alive.
If you look at Hutson’s shot under a microscope, it is the area of his offensive game that needs the most development. His mechanics need to be rounded out slightly more. Ideally, he should be shifting more weight over the knee when attempting a shot and occasionally his wind-up is a bit too long. I’ve seen slight improvements over the course of the season and he managed to score a beautiful top shelf wrist shot goal against Madison in January. But, he simply isn’t consistent in deploying quality shot mechanics that would elevate his shot. Hopefully, we continue to see Hutson growing his shot. Given his mobility and shiftiness, if he can cut down on his wind-up a tad, he will have another weapon to utilize if he can’t find a passing lane after shifting around an attacker.
In the defensive zone, Hutson implements quality pressure to keep the attack in medium and low danger areas. Hutson has excellent gap control along the boards when defending the rush. He knows which lane to take to force you to stay in low danger and gets right in your face. He will stand in the puck carrier’s way. Keep him against the boards. Force the direction of puck movement and be in position to net interceptions when the attacker attempts to pass along the boards. If he can’t shut down puck movement, he will still stay rather tight in his pressure and extends his stick blade out to ensure that the attacker doesn’t have the ability to cut around him.
Hutson has good reaction timing when he is in the slot and sees an attacker getting ready to take a medium danger shot. He drops to the ice just in time to block the shot. If the attack is coming down the left lane and he is in the slot with another attacker, Hutson turns towards his goaltender at the precise second that the attacker with the puck looks to pass to his teammate in the slot and then he extends his stick out to make it difficult for the attackers to complete the pass.
From a positional stand point, Hutson reads his defensive partner’s movements well. If he sees that his typical partner, Ryan Chesley is working behind the red line, he stays aligned with Chesley but on the other side of the red line to offer a passing lane.
The one area of his defending that needs to improve the most is his defending in 2 on 1 situations. He needs to center himself between two attackers when defending on a 2 on 1 in the defensive zone. Instead, he will try to commit to one attacker or will lower his body, lie down on the ice and look to take away a passing lane with his body. If he lies down on the ice and the attacker who has the puck is quick with puck movement, he can shift around Hutson with ease.
When he is in control of the puck, but has an attacker on him, he skates in one direction and at a moments notice he pivots and the attacker loses pace. By doing so, Hutson carves out open ice for himself to exit the defensive zone and kick off the rush. He is constantly taking a deceptive approach with puck movement. Hutson will deceptively place drop passes to teammates, but it will seem so synchronized and routine that the attacker just doesn’t spot it. Hutson is quick with his decision making and that allows him to be rather elusive with the puck. In situations in which he draws a forechecker in front of his own net and he is behind his net, he’ll look to shake them off with pivots, generate open ice, skate out from behind the net and complete a stretch pass to an open forward in the neutral zone.
When Hutson is looking to create a quality rush for the NTDP, he will look to pass the puck over skating into the neutral zone with possession of the puck. Hutson can deliver quality crisp zone exit diagonal passes. He will attempt saucer passes into the neutral zone. But, his bread and butter is the stretch pass. In every single NTDP game, Hutson will complete a number of stretch passes. He spots a forward close to the offensive zone blue line and slings a well-timed pass to him. Hutson uses vision to pin-point open teammates and more often then not successfully kicks off the rush with a quality breakout pass.
While he does do extremely well with breakout passing, he will struggle to get a pass off quickly enough when facing a more dominant physically gifted attacker along the boards. For instance, he struggled quite a bit against Lake Superior State and other NCAA competition with his breakout passes. While Hutson is rather mobile and has the ability to shift around attackers, in situations in which he is facing bigger competitors, he doesn’t have the stick-handling reach in order to push the puck around the attack. So, when he isn’t quick enough with his mobility to shift around the attack, he gets sandwiched and turns over the puck because he can’t rely on reach to push the puck further out from the attack.
Hutson does a good job of quickly moving back into the neutral zone when he sees that the attackers are about to create a zone exit. When choosing who to defend against, Hutson focuses on the forward who is the furthest up in the neutral zone. Hutson is well aligned to the attacker, keeps pace when skating backwards and facing the rush. Sometimes, he will struggle with his acceleration when skating backwards, but he can make up for it with his shiftiness and excellent forward skate extensions to be aligned to the attacker.
Hutson won’t move the puck controlled from zone to zone that much. Instead if he is in the neutral zone with the puck, he is looking to identify a forward closer up to the offensive zone blue line and then wire a pass to him.
I’m going to continue to rave about his passing. We aren’t done yet! His passing is so crisp. He can execute quality turn and cross ice feeds in the neutral zone to teammates at the offensive zone blue line. He can fire excellent passes from the edge of the blue line to a teammate on the opposite side of the ice at the offensive zone blue line.
Hutson has the problem solver gene in his DNA. He won’t force himself into pressure in which he can’t dodge. So, he uses good pivots and turns that allows him to double back in the neutral zone when he runs into traffic. He will double back and completes a zone exit pass from the defensive zone to his winger on the far side. Hutson passes to far side as most of the attention had been turned to him. In situations in which one forward is being trapped by multiple attackers, he will pivot and try the other winger on the other side of the offensive zone blue line.
Hutson has excellent posture. His knees are always bent. Good ankle flexion. He has lengthy straight line skate extensions. If he is slightly out of position and has to shift over from far half-wall in the neutral zone to the other half-wall in the defensive zone, he has excellent stride extension length to garner the necessary speed that the needs to catch up to the attacker who is vying with him for the loose puck in the defensive zone. In general, Hutson will generate quite a bit of speed with his extensions and that allows him to be rather quick on puck retrievals.
His backwards speed needs to be further developed, but I am content with his mobility and ability to hop into a forward stride nicely. His forward extensions can generate the speed he needs to have to be a defensive menace. Hutson knows when he skating backwards if he won’t be able to contend with the attacker’s speed. Then, he shifts to skating forwards.
I saved the best for last.
Hutson has excellent mobility and its a credit to his crossovers and edge work. He can generate open space for himself and shake off attackers with his mobility. Good outside edges when doubling back in the neutral zone as he had ran into traffic the neutral zone and looks to double back to find an open teammate on the opposite side. Good inside edges to pivot out of pressure along the blue line. Hutson does a good job of leaning on his edges when turning his body to react to puck movement. By leaning on his edges, it allows him to retain speed and that makes him far more likely to generate open ice for himself.
Lane Hutson will be a fun addition to your blue line. He is the kind of guy, who will be extremely fun to watch in all situations. 5v5 and on the power play. His mobility and soft passes make him an effective puck distributor and he will rack up assists. Defensively, he gives you solid gap control and keeps you in low danger with an active stick. I project Hutson as a second pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
February 18, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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