Chicago Blackhawks: Carter Hutton Deserves a Start Saturday

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IApril 20, 2013

Carter Hutton is still awaiting his first NHL action in goal.
Carter Hutton is still awaiting his first NHL action in goal.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have sewn up the top seed in the Western Conference. Last night's overtime win over Nashville gave them eight straight wins. The 'Hawks honored longtime announcer Pat Foley Friday night.

How about throwing a bone to a journeyman goalie Saturday?

Carter Hutton was recalled Thursday to replace an injured Ray Emery. The 27-year-old was up with the team briefly last season and backed up Antti Niemi in San Jose for a few games in 2010-11. He has never appeared in an NHL contest.

Hutton hasn't been as sharp for the IceHogs as he was last season, when he earned a two-way deal with the Blackhawks. He has, however, been a fan favorite in Rockford and the team's starter in net for 51 games.

He sports a 2.72 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage and has Rockford's only two shutouts on the season. He is a big reason that the team has fought for a playoff spot in the final games of the AHL schedule.

We all know that this isn't a charity organization that Rocky Wirtz is running in Chicago. However, this is an organization that has continuously made an effort to reward hard-working players with the occasional start.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I follow the IceHogs and that Hutts is my son's favorite player. From a sentimental standpoint, it would be great to see Hutton get the net Saturday.

Do the 'Hawks still have something to play for? Of course. The Presidents' Trophy is still within their grasp, as they lead Pittsburgh by six points for that honor with five games to play.

If Razor were healthy, there is little doubt that coach Joel Quenneville would have him in the crease against the Coyotes. Crawford wasn't terrible, but he certainly wasn't especially sharp in the 5-4 win over Nashville.

I would think Hutton would benefit from the Blackhawks defense just as Emery has for the bulk of the season. Tell me the players wouldn't play hard in front of a guy making his first NHL start.

Quenneville may elect to put Crawford back in net Saturday and that wouldn't shock me in the least. It's hard to project Hutton as an NHL backup after a season that wasn't as stellar as 2011-12. He is an unrestricted free agent at season's end and may not be in Chicago's plans after that.

However, with little to lose in getting some new faces into the lineup (Drew LeBlanc, anyone?), it would be pretty cool to see Hutton patrolling the net for the Blackhawks Saturday night.