ST. LOUIS - With Jake Allen signing a new long-term deal and Brian Elliott off to the Calgary Flames, the Blues had a vacant position between the pipes.
Enter Carter Hutton, who signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues on the first day of free agency.
The 30-year-old goaltender has spent the last three seasons with the Nashville Predators and has played in 76 career NHL games, posting a 33-24 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .910 save-percentage. A native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Hutton comes to St. Louis as the club's No. 2 goalie and is looking forward to a new opportunity with the Blues.
We caught up with Hutton as training camp began to get to know him a little better. Here is our full Q&A:
BLUES: What made St. Louis an attractive place for you to sign?
HUTTON: The biggest thing was hockey. Just being in the Central Division now for so long, I've played against the Blues, and they're such a great team top to bottom. I've seen some great success with goalies here, and I just wanted to come to a winning team. It's a winning mindset here, it's definitely not a development group. They're trying to win, and I want to be part of that.
BLUES: You started in the Chicago Blackhawks system and then spent three seasons with the Nashville Predators, so you know the Central Division well. Are there any Blues players you knew before reporting to training camp this week?
HUTTON: I know Robert Bortuzzo really well. We're both from Thunder Bay, Ontario and we played junior together about 10 years ago. Other than that, I just know most of the guys from playing against them or getting here to St. Louis early. Being in the Central Division so long, these guys who are shooting on you now in practice, you've played so many though games against them.
BLUES: It's early, but how are you fitting in with the Blues so far?
HUTTON: So far, so good. Camp is upbeat and it's been good. I'm just trying to get back in the groove. The first couple days are tough trying to find your game again and get back in the swing of things. I'm looking forward to these exhibition games.
BLUES: For Blues fans that haven't seen you play, what kind of goalie are they getting?
HUTTON: I try to think of myself as a pretty athletic guy. I try to use good footwork and be quick. I'm a good puck-handling goalie, that's something that's big with me and Jake. I like to get out there and make plays, and I rely on my compete-level a lot. I make a lot of secondary saves. Hopefully with our defense corps, we can have a lot of success together.
BLUES: The Blues had a great tandem last season with Allen and Elliott. How much are you looking forward to working with Jake?
HUTTON: From the outside looking in, you look at Jake and Brian bouncing back and forth and being rock solid all year. I think they reached a point where Ells had to move on with his career, and Jake was the up-and-comer. For me being a little bit older, I think I can help Jake, push him and we can keep each other honest. We've already hit it off really well. He's a great guy - him and his girlfriend welcomed me and my girlfriend right away and took us out to show us the city. That's always nice. From that standpoint it's going to be great, and from the hockey standpoint, I think it will be even better.
BLUES: If we googled "Carter Hutton" we might find some stats, highlights and news articles. But what can you tell us about yourself that Google doesn't know about you?
HUTTON: I'm an avid fisherman, and I spend my summers back in Thunder Bay and do a lot of fishing. That's a big pastime for me and my family.
BLUES: Can you play any musical instruments?
HUTTON: No. I'm one of those guys that loves music but has no feel for it at all. If you were to check my phone, you would find anything from Dave Matthews Band, to OAR, to Nirvana. I like rock and easy listening stuff. I'm not into rap or country much.
BLUES: There's a picture of you with the Undertaker on your Instagram account. How did that happen?
HUTTON: Our team dentist in Nashville is actually close friends with him. The dentist invited us to a wedding reception and the Undertaker was there. We were able to hang out, have a couple drinks and tell stories. I grew up a big wrestling fan, so getting to meet him was pretty cool.
BLUES: Did he impress the wedding party by dimming the lights and turning them back on with his supernatural powers?
HUTTON: No, he didn't. I was trying to get him to lie down on the ground like he was dead, then sit up to scare everybody, but he wasn't going for it.
BLUES: You're joining a team that reached the Western Conference Final last season, but has lost a few key veterans up front. What are your expectations for this season?
HUTTON: I think the expectations are still really, really high. You look at the guys the Blues have lost, obviously some veteran leadership guys, but if you look at the guys that are still here, there are very big leadership guys. They've played a lot of big games, and the majority of guys are back from last year. That's big. And the younger guys are going to get more minutes and more opportunity. The guys are ready for it.