Saver savoring experience
Hutchinson is OK with waiting
WILMINGTON - There is little room in the Bruins’ crease. Tim Thomas might be the best player in the NHL. Tuukka Rask, who projects to be an ace, is waiting for his turn. Anton Khudobin, the 25-year-old acquired from Minnesota last season, is third on the organization’s goalie depth chart.
Michael Hutchinson has to wait.
Hutchinson, the No. 77 pick in the 2008 draft, should be Khudobin’s backup in Providence. His services in Boston shouldn’t be needed for the next two years, or perhaps even more if Thomas signs another contract.
And like he’s always been told, the 21-year-old Hutchinson acknowledges that goalies take longer to develop.
“It’s a little bit frustrating,’’ Hutchinson said. “Like every player, you’re competitive and you want to get there as quick as possible. But you have to remind yourself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’re not trying to get to the NHL as quick as possible. You’re trying to have the best career you can have. For most goalies, it takes a little bit longer. You just have to be patient, make sure you’re consistently improving, and working hard in practice to make those improvements.’’
Hutchinson will start tonight when the Bruins rookies square off against their Islanders counterparts at Nassau Coliseum for the first of two exhibition games. The 6-foot-3-inch, 192-pound Hutchinson then will join the big boys in main camp. He could see some game action as the Bruins ease Rask back in following offseason knee surgery.
This season, the second-year pro is aiming to fold more consistency into his game.
Last year, Hutchinson split time between Providence and Reading of the ECHL, which shows the challenges facing young goalies as they graduate from junior. In Providence, Hutchinson went 13-10-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. With the Royals, Hutchinson was 9-5-4 with a 2.86 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
“Over the summer, you look back and start to nitpick,’’ said the righty-catching Hutchinson. “There’s a lot of areas I really want to improve on consistency-wise. I had a couple months where I really just played bad. I want to try and eliminate those this year.’’
Hutchinson is the organization’s sharpest puck-handling goalie. He’s quick to leave his crease, track down pucks, and shuttle them to teammates.
When he’s in his crease, Hutchinson is committed to staying deeper. In junior, Hutchinson was more aggressive at challenging shooters and cutting down angles. As a pro, he discovered that it would be far better to remain deep, allow his defensemen to block shots, and be in better position to make follow-up saves. It’s a skill Hutchinson still is trying to incorporate into his style.
“Last year, he had kind of an up-and-down year,’’ said assistant general manager Jim Benning. “At times he was good. At other times he struggled. For him to get better, he needs to improve his consistency. So far, he’s showing that he can continue developing and be a good goalie.’’
Cantin fits well During a scrimmage yesterday at Ristuccia Arena, defenseman Marc Cantin darted from the blue line, took a pass from Dylan Hood, and beat Hutchinson with an in-close tap-in.
Scoring such goals will not be atop Cantin’s priority list.
“I like to play with an edge all the time. I like to be the guy that other players don’t like to play against, like Ryan Spooner can probably attest to,’’ Cantin said with a smile as the center, attending to his sticks, stood nearby.
Benning compares the 6-1, 201-pound Cantin to former Bruin Mark Stuart. Like Stuart, the left-shot Cantin plays a simple, hard-nosed, lean-on-you game. In 2009-10, when he was playing for Windsor, Cantin was used in a shutdown role against Tyler Seguin in the playoffs. Cantin helped keep Seguin off the scoresheet in Windsor’s four-game sweep of Plymouth.
But those skills never got Cantin drafted. In the summer of 2009, he was invited to San Jose’s training camp. Last summer, the Bruins invited Cantin to their development camp. It took until March 23, when the team signed him to an entry-level contract, that Cantin finally could consider himself a pro.
“After I got passed up in the draft, it was a little frustrating at first,’’ Cantin said. “When you put in a lot of work in the summer and offseason, it’s a little frustrating when you don’t [get drafted]. But it gave me the desire to work harder and go above and beyond what other guys were doing. It paid off.’’
Cantin most likely will be paired with first-round pick Dougie Hamilton in tonight’s game.
Taking care of own All the Bruins’ scouts will have gathered in Boston by the start of main camp on Friday. From there, they will scatter to their respective regions to kick off pro and amateur scouting for 2011-12.
Part of their responsibilities will be to train their eyes on players approaching unrestricted free agency next summer. The Bruins have started to formulate a list of players they could target come July 1.
Recently, scouts leaguewide are seeing those lists shrink in terms of depth and breadth of talent and availability. General managers have been quicker to target their own players and extend them before they reach UFA status. Pekka Rinne, Ryan Suter, and Zach Parise are among the top guns who are in the final years of their contracts. Nashville and New Jersey are hoping to lock the players down before July 1.
“If it’s better targeting or not, the players are getting signed,’’ said GM Peter Chiarelli. “That list seems to be getting smaller. We were used to seeing more guys. So the talent pool is not as large.’’
The Bruins have seven players scheduled to become unrestricted next summer: Johnny Boychuk, Joe Corvo, Rich Peverley, Shawn Thornton, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille.