Carter Hutton is 32 years old and clearly felt it was time for him to become a starting goaltender in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres felt likewise.
Hutton and the Sabres quickly focused on each other during the NHL's free-agent period, and the deal rumored since Friday became official on Sunday: Hutton has signed a three-year deal with a friendly cap hit of $2.75 million per season with the Sabres.
"Buffalo right out of the gate was really strong," Hutton said Sunday afternoon during a Facetime interview on NHL Network. "They knew I was their guy and that was something that was really important for me."
Hutton has several connections to the Sabres. He was a backup goalie in Nashville for three years (2013-16) when current head coach Phil Housley was a Predators assistant, played two years at Rockford of the AHL while being coached by current Buffalo goalie coach Andrew Allen, and has a close relationship with Gerry Forton, the Sabres' top college scout, from his days at UMass-Lowell.
Hutton has put up big numbers the last two years in Nashville and St. Louis — leading all NHL goalies who played at least 30 games last season in both goals against average (2.09) and save percentage (.931). But he's never played more than 40 games in a season. This will be his chance.
"As my career went on, I kind of kept chipping away. It's a confidence and patience thing," he said. "I was in situations where other goalies had bigger commitments to but I kept forcing my hand and controlling what I could. The better I played, it put me in a better situation to sit here today and have a chance to go to Buffalo to start more games, do what I want to do: Compete and help a team win."
Hutton said he feels the Sabres are primed to make a turnaround in the first year of the Rasmus Dahlin era.
"He's a heck of a player and the excitement in Buffalo is just huge," Hutton said. "I'm so excited to go to this market. The last few years, they've just been dying for a team to win some games here. I'm excited to come and be a part of that. I think this young kid is going to be a big difference maker, and it's going to be nice having him in front of me."