Let’s take advantage of Canada’s meaningless victory against poor Latvia – a 10-0 thrashing still rewarding for some players statistically, but misleading in many ways – to shift our attention to one of the game’s most exciting prospects. Montreal Canadiens: Defenseman Lane Hutson.

The young man was not on schedule Wednesday. The Americans, winners against Norway 4-1 the day before, face Switzerland this Thursday.

We will obviously not be so candid as to draw conclusions following a match against Norway, a team the size of Latvia.

The time of use of this choice at the end of the second round of CH in 2022 nevertheless remains revealing of the coaches’ confidence in him. Hutson played 22:56 against the Norwegians, four minutes more than the team’s second-place finisher, Drew Fortescue, and four and a half minutes more than his partner Ryan Chesley. It is enormous.

Hutson seems destined this year for the role occupied last year by Luke Hughes, selected by the New Jersey Devils fourth overall in 2021 and already their best scorer on defense, on a par with Dougie Hamilton, at his first full season in the National League, at age 20.

This is not a question of comparing players, obviously, but of measuring Hutson’s impact within his training. The next matches, against tougher clubs, will tell us if he is up to the task.

After a somewhat messy first period, Hutson played a good match, without being transcendent. He got an assist, on the power play, on his team’s fourth goal. He admitted after the Americans’ training Wednesday morning that he could do better. “Some played a good game and others, like me, need to give more. »

It finds itself at a great advantage on ice like that of the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, due to its Olympic dimensions. He also did not face a very sustained forecheck from the Norwegians.

There is no doubt about Hutson’s offensive potential. He is producing at a rate unheard of in the NCAA for a young defender. He broke a record set by the legendary Brian Leetch for a rookie last year. He has a staggering 68 points in just 54 games since joining Boston University. His intelligence and creativity are undoubtedly his greatest assets.

The World Junior Championship, with the size of the rink and the opposition, will not be able to provide us with an answer. We will have to wait for his arrival in Montreal, at the end of the season, to measure his value and determine if the CH has the reincarnation of Quinn Hughes or an offensive specialist.

Hutson was passed over for almost two rounds in the 2022 draft due to his small size. He was 5’8″ tall and weighed just 145 lbs. His measurements now stand at 5’10” and 160 lbs.

The head coach of the American team, David Carle, does not seem worried about Hutson’s ability to defend. He even uses it when outnumbered.

“I had been told about his offensive potential,” he told reporters the day after the match against Norway on Wednesday, “but I was surprised by his desire to limit the opponent’s time and space in defensive territory. The more I work with him on a daily basis, the more I appreciate his defensive game. We should talk more about this aspect of his game, but I understand that his offensive exploits attract more attention. »