This signing is linked largely to Derek Forbort’s back injury. The Kings had communicated with Hutton earlier in the off-season but also wanted to provide time and opportunity for young players to battle for available defensive spots. Though their conversations had cooled after earlier dialogues, the two sides remained in touch in advance of coming to terms.
“I’ve obviously read some stuff on him,” Blake said at the State of the Franchise forum in late August. “We looked at him, and like I said, if there is a potential fit – but like I said, we have a lot of young defensemen that we want to get some playing time. We’ve got to sort out through our defense, for sure, if we can.”
Hutton’s signing changes the makeup of the defense that Los Angeles plans to open the season with. Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez are locks, though Hutton’s arrival makes things slightly more complicated for waiver-exempt defensemen Sean Walker, Matt Roy, Sean Durzi, Mikey Anderson and Kale Clague and waiver-eligible defensemen in Joakim Ryan, Paul LaDue and Kurtis MacDermid.
The financials can also be updated, though as of now the extent of Forbort’s injury isn’t crystal clear. (The prognosis is clearly not great, given that he hasn’t skated yet in camp and the Kings acquired a left-shot defenseman. The asterisk below denotes the possibility that he’ll open the season on IR.)
Forwards (14 / $44,009,671): Kopitar, Kovalchuk, Brown, Carter, Toffoli, Iafallo, Kempe, Lewis, Clifford, Grundstrom, Wagner, Luff, Prokhorkin, Amadio
Defense (8* / $21,970,000): Doughty, Martinez, Forbort*, LaDue, Walker, MacDermid, Roy, Hutton
Goalies (2 / $6,475,000): Quick, Campbell
Mike Richards Cap Recapture: $1,320,000; expires after 2019-20
Mike Richards termination: $250,000; expires after 2031-32
Dion Phaneuf Buyout: $2,187,000; fluid, expires after 2022-23
2019-20 Salary Cap: $81,500,000
Hutton averaged a career-high 22:21 in 2018-19, which included 1:51 of power play time and 2:18 of shorthanded time per game. With Hutton coming off a two-year contract with a $2.8M AAV, the Canucks chose not to qualify him in June, thus affording him unrestricted free agency.