Cole Hutson draft

The 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Sphere in Las Vegas. The first round will be June 28 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 are June 29 (11:30 a.m. ET; ESPN+, NHLN, SN, SN1). is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, a profile on USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team defenseman Cole Hutson.'s full draft coverage can be found here.

Cole Hutson understands that it's easy to compare him to his brother, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Lane Hutson.

But other than the last name, a similar frame and a common position, Cole is out to prove he's one of one, and certainly a different player than his brother.

"I think obviously there's a lot similar about our game and there's a lot different," Cole said.

Cole (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) certainly stood out on his own this season, with 51 points (15 goals, 36 assists) in 51 games for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 team. That includes being named the top defenseman at the 2024 IIHF World Under-18 Championship after he had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in seven games. The 18-year-old is No. 55 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

That's not far from where Lane, 20, was in 2021-22, his NHL draft season, when he measured 5-8, 158 pounds. That season he led NTDP defensemen with 63 points (10 goals, 53 assists) in 60 games and was named the best defenseman at the 2022 World Under-18s. He was No. 25 on Central Scouting's final ranking and went on to be chosen by the Canadiens in the second round (No. 62) at the 2022 NHL Draft.

Nick Fohr had an up-close view to both players' progression. He was an assistant coach who worked primarily with defensemen during Lane's time with the NTDP, and he's been Cole's head coach during his two seasons with the program.

"When you watch them and you see them with the puck on their stick, they are very similar," Fohr said. "Their postures, their ability, their elusiveness, how they play the game, all that sort of stuff is very, very similar."

What really separates them is their approach in the defensive zone.

"Lane was effective defensively because of just pure work and determination, and sometimes it was a negative because he would take himself out of position and get himself in bad spots and he'd get scored on because of it," Fohr said. "Cole is very different. Cole is very much more relaxed as a defensive player, plays from the middle of the rink more. He's more physical. When he goes into some of those battles, he does a much better job in those areas and just overall puts himself maybe in better spots defensively.

"One of the mistakes that a lot of smaller, undersized defensemen make when they're playing the game and trying to make their way up is they'll try to continue to go into a corner battle using strength to win the battle. You're not going to win, because the guy you're going into it with at these levels is way bigger, way stronger. So, you have to use technique and skill along with positioning and smarts to make it work. And Cole does a very good job of utilizing those things to be effective defensively."

One other area separates the brothers. Cole is the all-time leader among defensemen at the NTDP with 119 points (25 goals, 94 assists) in 112 games, eclipsing the 111 points J.D. Forrest had in his three seasons (1997-2000).

Lane is fifth with 90 points (15 goals, 75 assists) in 109 games.

"To me, the main two things that Cole has in excess is smarts and vision," Central Scouting's Pat Cullen said. "He sees the ice unbelievably well. He's very unselfish and ... he just has the utmost confidence in his skill level.

"It's hard not to compare him to Lane because Lane is the closest comparable to Cole and how he plays. They're a bit undersized, but they're extremely skilled. [Cole] competes hard on everything, he wants the puck on his stick and when he gets the puck on his stick, he feels like he's the best option to make a good play and most often it ends up that way. His numbers at the NTDP prove that to be true."

Next for Cole is continuing to work on all areas of his game in preparation for playing next season at Boston University. That's something else he has in common with Lane, who played there for two seasons before signing with the Canadiens on April 12.

When he starts in the fall, Cole will have another brother as a teammate, forward Quinn Hutson, at 22 the oldest of four hockey-playing brothers (the youngest is Lars, 15).

"It's going to be really cool," Cole said. "I know Lane loved playing with him the two years he had, and I think it's just going to be even cooler for me and him."

Cole considered other colleges, but the way BU fans reacted when he played there with the NTDP on Oct. 14 made it an easy decision.

"The fans there are pretty crazy," he said. "I remember when we played them earlier this year, there were cutouts of my body in the student section. When you go there and see that, it's hard not to choose that place."

Fohr sees areas of Hutson's game where he can improve, offensively and defensively, but is confident he has the drive to succeed and reach another of Lane's accomplishments: NHL success.

"All [Cole] has done is continue for his two years here is to prove people wrong that smaller defensemen can be impactful players," Fohr said. "He did here for two years for us. We watched it, he's now the highest scoring defenseman in the history of the NTDP. ... We're talking world-class talented players that have come through this place, year after year after year, and to be the guy that's No. 1 on that list after 20, 30-some years, whatever it's been of this program, that's a really big accomplishment. It just tells you that he's going to have success when he moves forward.

"Those teams that had question marks next to his name saw him go to the biggest stage and do it again. And he just continues to do it over and over and over again. He's done nothing but give people reasons to draft him, and draft him high. Now it's up to the teams to do that and reward him with that."

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