Few were happier to see Jordan Binnington lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup last season than former Blues goalie Carter Hutton.
“Obviously for him, it’s been an unbelievable story,” said Hutton, now with the Buffalo Sabres. “I couldn’t be happier for the guy. He’s always been nice to me and he was a good kid.
“And I think a guy that no one ever thought was going to turn into a Stanley Cup-winning goalie, NHL All-Star. I know in his mind he did, but I meant from like an outside standpoint.”
Hutton, 34, can relate. He has spent most of his career trying to prove he could be a starter in the NHL.
“It’s something I can appreciate and am happy for him,” Hutton said.
Hutton finally got that chance following the 2017-18 season when he left the Blues to sign a three-year, $8.25 million free-agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Blues were interested in re-signing him, but according to Hutton, contract length was a sticking point. The Blues didn’t want to commit to a three-year deal.
Hutton got his wish in terms of being a No. 1 goalie with the Sabres last season. His 48 starts easily was a career high. He hadn’t started more than 26 games since 2013-14 — his first full season in the NHL (for Nashville) when he started 34 times.
But while Hutton and the Sabres were doing that, the Blues — you know — were winning the Stanley Cup. Did a part of Hutton wish he were still with the Blues last season and winning the Cup?
“Of course,” Hutton said. “But I don’t view it from that sense. I view it from we all have the potential to try and get there. My road took me somewhere else, right?
“I think if my road doesn’t take me somewhere else, maybe they don’t win a Cup. Because if I stay, maybe Binnington doesn’t get called up that year if I’m healthy or whatever it is.”
Or maybe Hutton stays, he helps the Blues win the Cup, and Binnington continues to toil in obscurity in the minors.
“Yeah, yeah. I could say something,” Hutton said, laughing. “But that’s not the way I look at it. Of course I always picture that (winning the Cup), but at the same time, I’m just happy for those guys and proud of my friends and stuff like that.
“That’s not the way to get through life, like being jealous or wanting worse for anybody else by any means, so I was just happy for them.”
Hutton was outstanding during the 2017-18 season, going 17-7-3 with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. Many Blues fans, you may recall, wanted the Blues to keep Hutton and trade Jake Allen.
After the Blues took care of Boston in seven games in the Cup Final, Hutton took his wife and son to defensemen Robert Bortuzzo’s Cup day in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Bortuzzo and Hutton are from Thunder Bay and have trained together there for years. They’re close friends.
Hutton and Allen have stayed in touch as well. When the Blues played in Buffalo last month, Allen had dinner at Hutton’s home.
“Me and Jake are still really good friends,” Hutton said. “We had a great relationship here (in St. Louis).”
While Allen has revived his career this season with the Blues, Hutton has struggled for Buffalo. After a 6-0 start, Hutton is winless in his last 10 games (0-6-4), hasn’t appeared in a game since Dec. 19 against Philadelphia, and hasn’t won a game since Oct. 22 against San Jose.
“It’s hockey,” Hutton said. “We’ve still got a ton of games here left. Just chipping away at it here. At .500 right now, 6-6. I’ll live there and keep working at it.”
Linus Ullmark made his eighth consecutive start in goal for Buffalo on Thursday against the Blues.