The Pipeline: A conversation with Lane Hutson
Don’t let USA Hockey National Team Development Program defenseman Lane Hutson’s 5-foot-9 stature fool you.
He has the confidence, both on and off the ice, to not let the stereotype of ‘undersized blueliner’ deter his dreams of playing in the NHL.
“It’s how hard I compete and I try to take in the little details of my game, my stick, my skating, using my body when I can to close plays,” Hutson told Guy Flaming during their interview on The Pipeline Show. “Our defensive coach has helped me out a lot with that, closing out plays sooner and using my feet and my stick.”
But make no mistake, either. Hutson has that offensive prowess.
The 18-year-old defenseman from Illinois is nearly a point-per-game player with 41 points (seven goals, 34 assists) in 42 games.
Hutson is No. 40 in FCHockey’s Midterm ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft, and is 31st among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list.
The NTDP standout attributes his successful offensive season to the development at the National Team program and the increase in his confidence during his time on the Team.
“I feel when I came to the Program I didn’t have as much confidence as I do now and obviously strength, size and all that got better after my first year,” he said. “This year I feel like I can play both ends of the puck at a pretty high level and I can contribute offensively a lot more this year than last year cause of how much my confidence has grown.”
Guy Flaming: Tell me about the season so far for you and the club. I mentioned, just about a point-per-game. How’s the team playing?
Lane Hutson: The team’s playing very well. Everyone’s really getting to know each other after that first U17 year. And we were a great team then, but I feel like our team is taking strides and playing a complete game and just being good on both ends of the puck and it’s made it easier on me. It’s just been a lot of fun this year.
Guy Flaming: Last year you were half a point-per-game player. This year almost a full point-per-game player, why the big jump for you?
Lane Hutson: It’s more of a comfort thing for me. I feel coming into last year, there was an adjustment period. It was pretty hard getting used to the level of competition. Getting into this year I was a lot more comfortable and I know what I can do and I know my teammates tendencies and it helps to develop chemistry.
Guy Flaming: Have you always been a defenseman, Lane or did you try other positions in your younger career?
Lane Hutson: I’ve always been a defenseman. It was more of my dad always wanted to be a defenseman because he thought I saw the ice pretty well and that’s where I started, so I kinda stuck with it.
Guy Flaming: Tell me where you were and when the Program came on your radar? I know it’s obviously a dream for a lot of guys your age, but not everybody can play. So when did you start becoming aware of it and when did it become a reality for you?
Lane Hutson: I started thinking about it more when I was with the North Jersey Avalanche, my U16 year. I always knew about the program, but they weren’t really on my radar. I was just playing as hard as I can every day and doing my part with my team at the time.
Guy Flaming: Can you compare yourself, Lane Hutson today, to what you were when you first arrived at the program, how different of a player you are?
Lane Hutson: Yeah, I feel when I came to the program I didn’t have as much confidence as I do now and obviously strength, size and all that got better after my first year. This year I feel like I can play both ends of the puck at a pretty high level and I can contribute offensively a lot more this year than last year cause of how much my confidence has grown. Defending has always been a pretty big part of my game too, so just keep building on that too.
Guy Flaming: Well Lane we’ve been chatting for like 10 minutes and I haven’t mentioned size once, but you did. One sheet I’m looking at says 5-foot-8 and 148 pounds, but I think that’s out of date cause the Program’s website lists you at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds. You mentioned getting some size, that’s certainly been the case.
Lane Hutson: Yeah, it’s a lot but we’re doing it the right way with our trainers here without losing speed. Yeah, it’s just been pretty easy.
Guy Flaming: My question is, obviously you’re not 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds like a lot of guys, even that you’re playing against now, so how does a guy your size, not just get through the league, but have success and be one of the highest ranked players in the upcoming draft?
Lane Hutson: It’s how hard I compete and I try to take in the little details of my game, my stick, my skating, using my body when I can to close plays. Our defensive coach has helped me out a lot with that, closing out plays sooner and using my feet and my stick. It’s been pretty cool to learn from a pretty great defensive coach.
Guy Flaming: Now you’re going to school, are you going next year to Boston University?
Lane Hutson: Yeah, next year.
Guy Flaming: Why was Boston University the right program for you? Is it just to be with Quinn?
Lane Hutson: Boston University has such a history of putting guys into the NHL and that’s the ultimate goal for me and for my brother. It just made sense for me and the city’s a really special place. And it just makes it that much better that me and my brother are going.
Guy Flaming: I haven’t mentioned the NHL Draft. Is it something that you think about much?
Lane Hutson: I try not to think about it, I just come to the rink ready work every day and whatever happens, happens.
Guy Flaming: You got to play at the World U18 last year as an underage player. I know it didn’t go very well for Team USA in the tournament down in Texas. To get to play in at as an underager, must have been pretty special.
Lane Hutson: Yeah, it was really cool playing up with the older guys. I learned so much from them and it was a really great group, just couldn’t get the result we wanted.
Guy Flaming: For fans who haven’t had a chance to watch you play, how do you describe yourself as a player?
Lane Hutson: I think I’m a two-way, 200-foot defenseman who can contribute offensively. And knows the defensive responsibilities. I think I’m a mobile guy who can find space and find the open guy and create plays up the ice.
This interview has been edited for clarity and content