Last week, Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic did a Q and A with Tyler Wright, who’s going into his third draft as the Edmonton Oilers’ Director of Amateur Scouting.
Wright said that the Oilers will take the best player available approach and aren’t focused on drafting for a specific need. He also added that the team’s priority is looking for players who are fast, skilled, and competitive…
The way that we want our team to look at the NHL level is we want to play fast, we want to play smart and we want to be competitive.
As the draft progresses, every one of those players has more deficiencies in their game. If they were fast, highly skilled, smart, with good size, those are the ones that go at the very top of the draft. For us, it’s competitiveness, skill and speed. We want to play really fast, but we want to be competitive.
Among the players in this year’s draft class most often praised for their competitiveness is diminutive defender Lane Hutson from the United States Development Program.
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Hutson is a defender who’s listed at 5’8″, making him one of the smallest players in the draft. His calling card is producing offence with excellent puck skills, creativity, and passing, but Hutson also defends well for his size, utilizing a quick stick to force turnovers.
The fiery, competitive edge is also a key to Hutson’s game, as he’s described as always being a weapon when he has the puck and as a pest whose always trying to force the puck from his opponents when he doesn’t have it.
The reality of picking at No. 29 means players who have the full package of speed, size, skill, and smarts won’t be available to the Oilers. Much like with Jagger Firkus, who I talked about earlier in this series, Hutson is a player who will inevitably scare teams off at the draft because he doesn’t have the body of a standard NHL defenceman. He checks a lot of boxes other than that, so Hutson would be an interesting home run swing for the Oilers to make.
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Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters noted in his draft rankings in June that while there’s a huge uphill climb for a 5’8″ defender to hack it in the NHL, he believes Hutson will prove doubters wrong because “he’s that fiery of a competitor.”

Lane Hutson

Position: Defenceman
Shoots: Left
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: February 14, 2004
Height: 5’8″ / 173 cm
Weight: 159 lbs / 72 kg

Scouting report…

“Hutson is a constant threat with the puck on his stick. He’s the smartest player in the draft. He makes so many seam passes to generate chances. Hutson is also a highly-skilled puckhandler who shows great creativity off the offensive blue line. He makes a lot of crafty fakes and dekes to evade pressure. He’s not the fastest skater, but his edgework is quite good and allows him to use his skating to attack. The offense is clear NHL quality. Whether a barely 5-foot-9 defenseman who isn’t an elite skater can defend in the NHL is the question with Hutson. He’s a competitive, quality defender versus juniors and college opponents but that will need to be a test he’ll need to clear down the line. I think he plays in the NHL, and projects as an offensive-tilted top-four defenseman, but I realize the odds are against a player who looks like him becoming that. I stamp him this high because he’s the smartest player in the draft and I see just enough to the rest of his game to be able to elevate at higher levels.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic
“Though he is among the smallest defensemen in this draft, he is a highly intelligent two-way player with dynamic offensive ability. While he’s not a straight-line blazer, Hutson’s skating is deceptive and creative. His ability to change directions on a dime is one of his best attributes and makes him difficult to track for the opposition when he has the puck. With elite vision and soft hands, he makes a lot of plays in all zones. Defensively, he has one of the best sticks in the draft, which allows him to make up some for his size disadvantage. He’s totally committed to defending despite that size disadvantage and the dynamic skill set. I think he’s one of the most exciting players in this draft, but I fully understand the limitations that someone at his size could face at the next level. There’s a good chance Hutson won’t go in the first round, but I have very little doubt he will prove disbelievers wrong by making it and being a solid NHL player. He’s that fiery of a competitor.” – Chris Peters, Daily Faceoff

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