Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/6/2016 (1989 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With a training camp battle and an expansion draft on the horizon, Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson was just trying to live in the moment Tuesday morning.
"It’s definitely a weight off your shoulders in the summertime," Hutchinson said about the two-year, one-way contract he signed Tuesday that has an annual average value of US$1.15 million.
"I’m excited to be able to be here and be a part of the Winnipeg Jets organization for another couple of years. I couldn’t be happier."
The 26-year-old former third-round pick by the Boston Bruins was a pending restricted free agent come July 1.
Despite posting pedestrian numbers last season compared to his breakout campaign during the 2014-15 season, the Jets were quick to lock up the Barrie, Ont., native.
"I didn’t think anything of it; it’s one of those things that’s out of your control and you just let your agent and Winnipeg figure it out," Hutchinson said. "I got a couple calls here and there, but the deal got done relatively quick, which is really nice. It was a pretty easy process."
Hutchinson’s laid-back, let the chips fall where they may, attitude was evident when asked about the coming season and the possiblity of being exposed to the expansion draft for the new National Hockey League team in Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.
Hutchinson will be locked in a battle with incumbent starter Ondrej Pavelec, who is in the last year of his five-year pact with the club, and American prodigy Connor Hellebuyck, who impressed in his extended time spent with the big club last season, come training camp.
"I’m sure everything will sort itself out in time and the only thing I can control is getting myself ready for the season, to put my best foot forward when the season starts," Hutchinson said. "It’s a different situation and there’s still a lot of stuff to be hammered out in the details of (the expansion team)," he said. "It’s not really one thing you think about aside from it kind of being a cool experience."
Hutchinson’s rise in the 2014-15 season was unexpected. He became a fan favourite after posting 21 wins and a .914 save percentage during a season that started with him buried on the depth chart. Hutchinson had toiled in the ECHL for part of the previous season, but ended up with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, where he led them to a Calder Cup final appearence, losing in five games to the Texas Stars.
Hutchinson blanked the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in his first full 60 minutes between the pipes with the Jets and helped the team mount its successful push to the first post-season birth in Jets 2.0 history.
The Jets’ No. 34 fell back to earth with more pedestrian numbers, struggling with a .907 save percentage and just nine wins in 30 appearances during his sophomore season.
This off-season will be spent making tweaks to his on- and off-ice regiment, improvements he hopes will steady the roller-coaster he rode last year.
"Things aren’t always going to be smooth and you just have to stay positive through that," Hutchinson said. "I thought I did a good job and this year I’m hoping to build on how I finished the season."
Among his off-ice tweaks will be working with a new trainer. If proposed equipment changes are implemented by the league this summer, he’ll be spending as much time working with the new pads as he can.
"It’s kind of a waiting game right now with that," he said. "It’s one of those things, again, that’s out of my control. I’m with the bulk of the goalies, as long as we’re protected it doesn’t matter how big the equipment is or how small it is. The last thing you want is to get hurt from a shot."
Meanwhile, Hutchinson will be following this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft. He said he was making dinner for himself and defenceman Mark Stuart when it was announed the Jets would draft second overall in Buffalo.
"I kind of forgot the draft (lottery) was on," Hutchinson said. "It was on the TV in the other room. All of a sudden Stu started yelling that we had a potential top-three pick.
"We’re definitely on the path to building something really special here."