When the Vancouver Canucks drafted Ben Hutton back in 2012, nobody really knew anything about him. In fact, Canucks.com writer Derek Jory was sent on a dangerous special assignment just to figure out who this guy was.
Fast forward two years and Hutton is becoming a household name among the group of Canucks prospects. His play the past two seasons has propelled him up the prospects depth chart and right into the University of Maine record books.
The Prescott, Ontario, product set the Maine record for goals by a defenceman with 15 last season, registering 29 points (15-14-29) in 35 games. His 15 goals and nine power-play tallies ranked first among NCAA blue-liners, all while just in his sophomore season. In fact, he is only one of seven defenceman to score 13 or more goals in an NCAA season in the last five years.
“Everything was clicking,” said Hutton. “Credit to my teammates as they were setting up screens and making good plays. My coach really helped me develop as a player and a person throughout the year.”
Stan Smyl, the Canucks director of player development, said Hutton has a skillset that you can’t teach.
“He is a real pleasant player to watch,” said Smyl. “The first time I got to see him live at Maine was pretty impressive. What he brings offensively, you can’t teach. He can skate, he carries the puck out of pressure, he likes to be active, he’s jumping into the play and he has the ability to finish. You don’t teach those things, some players are just special that they have those skills, and he brings that.”
Lost in all of this is Hutton’s ever improving defensive and physical play. At 6-foot-2, and a shade under 200-pounds, Hutton has the size and skill to become a solid two-way defenceman at the pro level. He was used in all situations, playing against the other team’s top guys for most of last season, while also leading all Maine defencemen in blocked shots.
“I was still able to develop my defensive game,” said Hutton. “My new coach really helped me in becoming a better player overall, not just scoring goals and setting up plays. He really taught me about being a better overall player which helps the team.”
Hutton admits during the season he didn’t put any thought into what he was doing on the ice and it took a few weeks after the season was finished before he realized what he had just done.
“I tried not to think about it throughout the year,” he said. “I just went out there and played my game, but after the season, me and my roommate, Devin Shore, were sitting around and it just clicked when we both thought ‘wow, that was a good year.’”
Now Hutton will look to do it all over again as he enters his third season in the NCAA ranks.
“It puts a bit of pressure on me, but I am just looking to go into the season, play my game and get some wins for Maine.”