As expected, the Buffalo Sabres signed goalie Carter Hutton to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.75 million shortly after free agency opened today.
The Sabres had to pursue a proven veteran after moving on from former starter Robin Lehner last week, as management seems uncomfortable with prospect Linus Ullmark carrying the load.
Hutton, 32, morphed into arguably the NHL’s best backup with the St. Louis Blues last season, going 17-7-3 with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage, which ranked first among goalies who played at least 30 times.
The signing reunites Hutton with Sabres goalie coach Andrew Allen, who served in the same capacity with the Rockford IceHogs during the netminder’s time in the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
Update: Hutton on signing: “I always thought it might be an option. At the end of the day, I was a guy who wanted to sign. It was a weird free agency period, not a ton of goalies in that sense. I think a lot of teams were waiting on Phlilipp Grubauer to see what happened.
“With Buffalo, I was obviously their guy, so it gave me a lot of confidence going in there knowing that I could go somewhere they wanted me to succeed. I’m really excited to join a team like this. They’re ready to win.”
The 6-foot-1, 201-pound Hutton went undrafted and played four seasons at UMass Lowell. He has played for two other NHL teams – the Blackhawks and Nashville Predators – but was also dressed for games with the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks.
After shuttling around the AHL for four years – Hutton also played briefly in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye – he cracked the NHL for good in 2013-14, playing a career-high 40 games with Nashville.
Update: Sabres general manager Jason Botterill on Hutton: “What we’ve learned about Carter is he has the confidence in the No. 1 role and also has a history of working with you goalies. We think it’s a great fit.”
In other news, the St. Louis Blues have signed former Sabres backup goalie Chad Johnson to a one-year contract worth $1.75 million.
Update: According to Botterill, the Sabres are likely done with signings for today.
Update: The Sabres have re-signed winger Scott Wilson to a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.05 million.
The Sabres did not tender Wilson as a restricted free agent so they could avoid arbitration.
Wilson, 26, compiled six goals and 14 points in 49 games last season after the Sabres acquired him from the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 4, 2017.
Update: The Sabres have signed goalie Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way contract.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Wedgewood, 25, went 5-9-4 with a 3.45 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage in 20 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season.
Wedgwood is likely ticketed for the Rochester Americans next season.
Update: The Sabres have signed defenseman Brandon Hickey to a two-year, entry-level contract.
The Sabres acquired Hickey’s rights from the Coyotes on June 14. The Boston University product participated in Buffalo’s development camp last week.
Like Wedgewood, he should start next season in the AHL.