The New York Islanders have gone the undrafted college free agent route to add a blueline prospect to the pipeline.
Thursday morning they announced the signing of a one-year contract beginning in 2019-20 for Grant Hutton, a right-shooting, 6’3, 209-pound defenseman who finished four years with Miami University of Ohio in the NCAA. In that time, he logged 71 points (29 goals, 42 assists) in 144 games, began wearing a letter his second year and was captain his senior year.
Update: Hutton will indeed join Bridgeport now on an ATO (amateur tryout) for the rest of this season.
The offensive-minded defenseman was not seen as among the top NCAA free agents this spring, but he was on the NHL radar and has previously accepted invitations to developmental camps from the Vegas Golden Knights and the Toronto Maple Leafs, when current Isles GM and noted NCAA-ophile Lou Lamoriello was running the show.
Even getting to this point is a milestone for Hutton, a Carmel, Indiana native who was turned away by USHL teams, bounced around the NAHL, and only had three NCAA schools interested in him for hockey. But he quickly made a mark at Miami, playing in 35 of 36 games as a freshman.
Because of Hutton’s age, 23, the deal is just a one-year entry level contract, after which he’ll be a restricted free agent whose rights can be retained if the Islanders offer a qualifying offer in summer 2020.