Voted for the eighteenth spot, Michael Hutchinson comes to the Winnipeg Jets from the goalie farm mill that is the Boston Bruins. Hutchinson was signed as a RFA to the Jets as he wasn't given a qualifying offer to make room for bluechip goalie Malcolm Subban, and because Michael was unable to displace top AHL netminder Niklas Svedberg.
Hutchinson is one of the reasons why drafting goalies high presents large risk for minimal. It is not uncommon to sign a young RFA goalie who still has NHL upside due to losing in the numbers game for another team. While it is unlikely Hutchinson will be dethroning Ondrej Pavelec anytime soon, he does add some immediate depth to the Jets goaltending and will challenge Eddie Pasquale for AHL starter and top callup option.
Previous Rank: NR
Lots of leagues to trek
In 2006-07, the sixteen year old Michael Hutchinson was called up to play for the Barrie Colts, playing with OHL's sixth leading scorer Bryan Little, and the young netminder was even was featured in a playoff game. The next season Hutchison saw an increase of minutes, splitting the regular season and taking over as the number one for a strong playoff run where he posted a 0.941. He ended up being a late riser in the draft and was picked up in the third round by the Boston Bruins. For the remainder of Hutchinson CHL career, he played one season for a middling Colts and one for a dominate London Knights team. He posted solid regular season numbers but seemed to struggle to reciprocate these in the post-season. Once he was ready to graduate to pro-hockey, the Bruins signed him to a three year ELC.
For his four seasons in the OHL, Hutchinson was average-to-above-average in save percentage, placing 1st, 8th, 12th, and 12th in save percentage in a 20 team league. Hutchinson is around the same age as Eddie Pasquale and beat the Thrasher's draft pick's save percentage each year except for the final season. Over the entirety of his junior career, Michael faced about 4200 shots with a 0.915 Sv%.
Typical of most non-bluechip goaltender prospects, Michael Hutchinson started his pro career splitting time in the AHL and ECHL. His first season he was near equal, although for the next two seasons he only saw a total of 2 ECHL games. Hutchinson was also called up to the NHL a few times due to injuries but did not see any game time.
In the one season Micheal Hutchinson saw significant time in the ECHL, he placed 10th in the league for save percentage. Hutchinson faced about 700 shots and had a 0.918 Sv% for his career.
Hutchinson's ECHL demotion in his rookie season seemed justified as his 0.904 Sv% was 50th in the AHL at the time. The next season though Michael's 0.927 was 7th in the AHL, posting similar numbers to Ben Bishop, Jacob Markstrom, Ben Scrivens and Eddie Lack. Hutchinson fell back to earth in 2012, posting 0.914 which was 33rd in an AHL that contained both NHL goalies and shooters for much of the season. Overall Michael faced about 2500 shots for a 0.915 Sv%. He also beat fellow IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale in all three years.
Due to his age, Michael Hutchinson signs to the Jets as a restricted free agent, improving the Jets goaltending depth and creating internal competition for Eddie Pasquale and Juho Olkinuora.
While Hutchinson's success in keeping a competitive Sv% shows he is a legitimate NHL prospect with some upside, it doesn't really dictate by how much, as the AHL-to-NHL translation tends to be muddied by small sample sizes. He will be one to watch over at St. John's for sure.
In the end, goaltenders tend to be a bit of a crapshoot; this is why the more you have with NHL upside, the better... this is why most of the goaltenders are late in the top 25 list.