The Sabres were in need a goalie to help ease Linus Ullmark in to No. 1 netminder duties in the NHL.
They signed their guy as free agency opened on Sunday, agreeing to a three year contract with Carter Hutton, who has spent the last two years backstopping the St. Louis Blues.
“Immediately, I was the guy they wanted to sign,” Hutton said of his interaction with the Sabres head of the signing period opening. “With Buffalo, I was their guy and that gave me a lot of confidence in going in there knowing that I could go somewhere they wanted me to succeed.”
Hutton, 32, knows the role his is going to fill, essentially splitting time as a starter as Linus Ullmark prepares to take over the reigns as Buffalo’s netminder of the future.
“I think they want to kind of protect him. It’s going to be a big year for him,” Hutton said on his conference call with the media. “He’s a young kid coming up, and paying full-time in the NHL is a lot different than playing full-time in the AHL. I think they just don’t want to make any mistakes rushing him. They know he’s the guy of the future and have a lot of faith in him. My role is to step in, play well and help this team win hockey games right away.”
Another key piece of the Sabres’ future will patrol the blue line when the season begins in October. Rasmus Dahlin, who is considered a generational talent, is poised to step in and improved a defense that has lacked speed and ability to create opportunities offensively in recent years.
As free agency opened, Hutton said he didn’t think any less of the team before they acquired the defenseman.
“(Dahlin is) obviously an exciting player and a guy who is going to come in and make an immediate impact. It obviously excites me in that sense, but, I thought just in general Buffalo was a great market to go to as well,” Hutton added. “I think it’s a market that is really yearning for a winning team and just getting to meet the owners and management, you know, it made the decision a lot easier in knowing it’s the right place for me and my family.”
The Sabres hav finished last in the NHL standings in three out of the last five years. But, in battling the Blue & Gold and watching the team, Hutton views the team a bit differently.
“I just think they’re close. I played them a few times over the last three, four, five years, and it’s always just kind of a few missing pieces and I think now they’re becoming a whole team,” he said. “Shoring up the backend here, getting the number one overall pick is amazing. I think Jack Eichel is becoming a superstar in the league, if not already. A few injuries here and there hurt them. I think moving forward that’s something we can change next year and turn those one goal losses into finding a way to win those games and that makes a big difference quickly.”