Why we shouldn't read too much into Lane Hutson's debut

Hutson's professional debut shouldn't be viewed as the whether he is ready or not.
2024 Frozen Four
2024 Frozen Four / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

Lane Hutson has garnered all of the attention since signing his entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens at the end of his NCAA season.

He is a polarizing player and would be regardless of what team he was set to make his debut for in the NHL. Everybody wants to see him succeed, and given his statistics in college; it's easy to imagine people may overreact if he doesn't play well. The same can be said if he explodes out of the gate and uses the sour taste in his mouth from the Frozen Four loss as motivation to excel in the NHL.

Hutson has adapted to each level of hockey that he climbs up to, using his skills and smarts to figure out how to play his game. In the NHL, it will be much different for him; his skating will still be very important, but the level of competition will be better than he is used to. It doesn't necessarily mean that he won't find his footing right away, but if he does it will be a sign of his ability to adapt.

Hutson will be put in a position to take advantage of all the great things that he can do. Against his hometown Detroit Red Wings, there will be plenty of reason for excitement. It will be very interesting to see where the Habs line him up, and whether or not he will get some time on the power play.

It's tough to gauge whether or not Martin St. Louis would take Mike Matheson off the power play for a couple of opportunities in Hutson's favour. But if the Canadiens wish to use Hutson's strengths, it would be best to watch him on the power play; however, the second unit would be a waste of time. His puck play is at an elite level and that is why he should be put with players who can benefit from his playmaking abilities.

The fact of the matter is that Hutson will only get a small sample size, so it will be tough to assess where his game is at. When Nick Bobrov spoke during the Canadiens pre-draft meetings, he said that Hutson had a big brain. That is exactly why the games he plays this season will be important for him to self-assess and have an idea of what he will need to work on over the offseason to be better prepared for the 2024-25 season.

St. Louis feels like the perfect coach to show an undersized player the ropes, he did so with Cole Caufield and it had worked tremendously. Marty thinks the game at such a high level and that has allowed him to transition into coaching seamlessly, his hall of fame resume as a player also speaks for itself. Regardless of how his first game or two this year play out and his first season next year goes, he is still young and has plenty of room to grow and develop.

Hutson's floor looks to be a top four defenseman, but if he reaches his potential, there is good reason to believe that he ends up being on the Habs top pair.