Barrie native expected to get a shot at backup role
Barrie native Michael Hutchinson has signed a new two-year deal with the Winnipeg Jets. He guided Winnipeg's farm team, the St. John's IceCaps, to a berth in the American Hockey League final this past season before falling to the Texas Stars. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Hutchinson has earned the right to compete for the backup job once training camp rolls around. KEVIN KING/QMI AGENCY
The Winnipeg Jets backup goaltending picture appears to be coming into focus.
Barrie native Michael Hutchinson, who had a storybook season during which he spent time in the ECHL, the AHL and the NHL and concluded with a run to the Calder Cup final, agreed to terms a two-year deal worth $1.15 million.
In the first season of the deal, it’s a two-way deal, which means his salary is lower in the AHL than it is in the NHL. But in the second year of the contract, it’s one-way, which means Hutchinson gets paid the same whether he’s in the NHL or the minors.
Although having a two-way deal this season makes it easier to send Hutchinson down, he would have to be placed on waivers in order to do so and could be claimed by another organization.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said this week that Hutchinson has earned the right to compete for the backup job but mentioned the possibility of competition.
How much NHL experience that competition has remains to be seen.
The Jets have committed to Ondrej Pavelec as their starter going and have Connor Hellebuyck and Jussi Olkinuora under contract.
Eric Comrie, the Jets’ 2013 second-rounder, will be ready to turn pro after next season, so bringing someone in for more than one year seems unlikely.
Could the Jets try to acquire someone like Morweena product James Reimer from the Toronto Maple Leafs or Peter Budaj from the Montreal Canadiens?
In the case of Budaj, it looks like he’ll be pushed out after the emergence of Dustin Tokarski during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Budaj, 31, has one year left on his deal at $1.4 million and could probably be acquired for less than what it would take to get Reimer.
Or perhaps the Jets could convince Tomas Vokoun to sign a one-year deal.
Vokoun, 38, saw limited action last season because of a blood clot, but would bring ample experience to the organization.
Another option would be to bring a guy with some NHL experience that could provide a safety net if Hutchinson falters — someone like David Leneveu or Yann Danis — but would mostly likely spend the season in the AHL.
Hutchinson, who was chosen by Boston in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and also played 89 games with his hometown Barrie Colts while in junior, was signed by the Jets as a free agent last summer.
Hutchinson opened last season as the No. 5 goalie on the depth chart, but quickly worked his way up to No. 3 and even got his first taste of NHL action, appearing in three games with the Jets, going 2-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
Hutchinson, 24, went 17-5-1 with a 2.30 goals against average and .923 save percentage in 24 games with the IceCaps during the regular season and then elevated his game once again, going 12-9 with a 1.95 goals against average and .938 save percentage in 21 games.