Bound for Beantown
During the Barrie Colts past season, Michael Hutchinson would head over to the billet house of teammate Brian Lashoff to watch Lashoff's older brother, Matt, man the blue line for the Boston Bruins on television.
Little did Hutchinson know he'd one day be joining the older Lashoff as a member of the Bruins' storied organization.
"I'm just thrilled to be drafted by Boston," Hutchinson, sporting that familiar ear-to-ear grin, said just moments after the Bruins had selected him with their third-round pick (77th overall) in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Saturday, at Scotia-Bank Place in Ottawa. "Brian Lashoff, on my team, his brother is part of the (Bruins) system and I remember going over to his house every time his brother got called up and watching the games.
"I've always had a soft spot for Boston."
And the Bruins certainly developed a soft spot for Hutchinson, especially after watching his stunning Ontario Hockey League playoff performance this past season when he led the Colts to a stunning first-round five-game upset of the Brampton Battalion.
In that series, he averaged 44 saves, including a standout 63-save beauty in Barrie's 2-1 overtime win in Game 4.
While the Colts would be eliminated in the second round by a powerhouse Belleville Bulls squad, 'Hutch' would finish with an impressive .941 save percentage, second-best among OHL goaltenders.
That's all the Bruins needed to see. "I think it was big for him," Scott
Bradley, director of scouting for Boston, said of Hutchinson's play in the playoffs. "Our staff went in there and saw him play and he was outstanding. I don't think he played a bad game down the stretch."
All made possible when the Colts dealt starting all-start goaltender Andrew Perugini to the Sarnia Sting at the OHL trade deadline. That allowed Hutchinson to step into the No. 1 role, and the second-year goaltender never looked back .
After Christmastime last season, Hutchison felt he "really started progressing," and found his game.
"(Colts' coach Marty Williamson) showed a lot of confidence in me in making the trade, since Andrew was one of the top goalies in the league," the 18-year-old native of Barrie said. "I think I just used that as momentum to help me throughout the season."
"I don't think you can say enough about how much that first-round performance helped me," Hutchinson added. "At the mid-term (NHL) rankings, I was sort of under the radar. After that I was able to start feeling more confident about the draft."
And the Bruins felt more determined to make him part of the organization despite already having, they believe, one of the top young puck-stoppers in Tuukka Rask.
"He really stepped things up," Wayne Smith, the head of scouting for the Bruins, said of Hutchinson. "He gave his team a chance to win every night. I think you could see that if (Barrie) got one goal they believed they had a chance to win. And that's what you're looking for every night in a goaltender, someone that you have that confidence that, 'Hey, all we've got to do is get one or two goals and we have a chance to win every night."'
Hutchinson talked to some 20-plus teams before the draft and was surprised he went to the Bruins, but looking back he admits he "had a really good feeling" after his meeting with Boston.
"I felt it was one of the better interviews I had throughout the day, î Hutchinson said. "I'm just thrilled that they took a chance on me."
Hutchinson isn't even thinking about the competition he could have one day down the road with Rask.
"No, I'm just thrilled right now," Hutchinson said. "There's always going to be competition. He's a great goalie, I watched him at the world juniors. I'm just thrilled to have a chance to be his teammate in the future."
Besides, Hutchinson knows there's still plenty of work and improvement needed in his game if he wants to sport that famous 'B' on his chest in the future.
"I need to get bigger and stronger and work on my puck-handling," the six-foot-three, 185 pound goaltender said. "My main area of focus for training this summer is that I help my (defence) out in making the pass to them.
"Hopefully, I can do that throughout this summer."
Watching Hutchinson pull over the Bruins' jersey was Colts' teammate Stefan Della Rovere. His moment in the draft may have taken a little longer, but that didn't matter one bit when the Washington Capitals selected the power forward in the seventh and final round (204th overall).
"It was definitely a long wait," said the 18-year-old, who heard his named called with just eight selections remaining. "I came here to cheer on a couple of buddies of mine, and, fortunately, I got drafted later in the seventh round. It's great."
The second-year Colt admits for a while there he didn't think he his name would be called.
"A couple of times no," said Della Rovere, who is happy for Hutchinson. "I was hoping to go earlier, but I'm happy to be drafted and that's all that matters."
Della Rovere had no idea the Capitals were going to take him.
"It was a real surprise," he said. "I was kind of just relaxing up there and all of a sudden the guys started cheering for me. I really didn't know anything about the Capitals, whether they had interest in me, but it's an honour to be part of this organization."
And while there were plenty of other players who went before him, Della Rovere doesn't feel there's a need to prove any team wrong that he should have gone earlier.
"Once the camp is over, you go into (training camp) and practically everyone is equal and you have to prove yourself there," said the Colts first-round pick in 2007, who believes he has to become quicker if he's every going to have a shot of playing in the NHL some day. "(With) my capabilities, I believe I can show them that I'm able play."
ICE CHIPS: Former Colts general manager Mike McCann was busy as a scout at the Montreal Canadiens draft table on Saturday, but he got a bit of a break on Friday night when the Canadiens traded their first-round pick to the Calgary Flames for Alex Tanguay ... Barrie's 2007 fifth-round pick Corey Trivino, who has decided to go the NCAA route, was selected in the second round (36th) by the New York Islanders ... Alliston native Peter Delmas, a goaltender with the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the last pick of the second round (61st) ... Here's the take by Al Jensen of NHL scouting on Hutchinson, "Half way through the season he started to play more and started to gain some confidence. He is very quick; he challenges well and has a great glove. He is a very balanced goaltender and he's quick to move and get set. I saw him play the first game of the playoffs and I couldn't believe his confidence and how poised he was for it being his first game of the playoffs. He looked like a veteran goaltender in there, it showed too; he played big and his athleticism and quickness came into play. In my eyes, his stock has really risen over the course of the season."
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'Hutch' At A Glance
* Patterns his game after Vancouver's Roberto Luongo
* His nickname is 'Hutch' and has worn number one since his first year as a goaltender.
* He got his start in hockey at the age of six and played five years of 'AAA' minor hockey in Barrie before finishing his minor hockey career with the Markham Majors in minor midget.
* If he could invite any three people to dinner he would choose: Ken Dryden, "to learn about the 1972 Summit Series," Martin Brodeur, "to talk about the mental aspect of the game and how he is so consistent every year" and Carey Price, "to find out how he has dealt with the pressure of the world juniors and being a starting goalie in his first year."
* The most embarrassing song on his iPod isSee you againby Miley Cirus and the one thing he couldn't live without is hockey.
* Source: NHL