Despite not making many major adds this offseason, the NY Islanders are still a pretty crowded group in terms of NHL-ready players. On paper, and as it currently stands, they're likely the thinnest in terms of their blue line. The first five spots you could probably plug into the lineup with a pen, but there is one spot to be claimed on Scott Mayfield's left on the third pair. According to Grant Hutton, he believes the spot is his for the taking:
"The way I’m looking at it is there is a spot open and I’m going to do everything in my power to try and take it."- Grant Hutton
Hutton signed a three-year, $2.325 million contract this summer, his third professional contract since signing with the Islanders out of the NCAA in the summer of 2019. Hutton is a right-handed, right defenseman, so if he plans on claiming the Islanders' sixth spot, he'll have to play on his off-side. Hutton will be up against quite a few candidates in camp, namely Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, and Dennis Cholowski.
In the 2021-22 season, Hutton did dress for 16 games with the Islanders and he displayed a calm, steady presence on the blue line. He didn't impress anyone with flash and pizazz, but rather he impressed with his ability to do all the little things right, defend well in his own end, and move the puck out of his own zone and away from danger. Additionally, he chipped in one goal for his only point in the short stint.
Hutton isn't your traditional rookie at the Islanders rookie camp. He's headed into his age-27 season after spending the last three years in the AHL playing for the Bridgeport Islanders. The former captain of the University of Miami (Ohio) has been a steady presence in Bridgeport, accruing 20-plus points in two out of three seasons, and notching five points in a 24-game clip during the shortened pandemic year.
He also isn't the oldest prospect at rookie camp with Ryan MacKinnon in attendance and a year older, but Hutton's one of the closer players to NHL-ready that's over the age of 25. It's a steep hill for Hutton to climb in order to steal a spot away from a young guy such as Salo who likely has the edge in speed and offensive flare. However, Hutton is certainly one to watch as rookie camp is underway if he believes he can outplay his competition on his off-side.
It's likely we'll see Hutton around the Islanders a little more this season, regardless, as injuries are all but guaranteed, and with two years left on his contract after this season, you might see him replace Mayfield in his third pair role at some point if the veteran defenseman prices himself out of Lou Lamoriello's budget. Hutton has certainly put himself on everyone's radar and will be one to watch over the next several days at rookie camp and on September 21st when the Islanders' training camp opens.