2009 prospects: Alex Hutchings

By Joseph Cassidy

Some say that speed kills. Fortunately for Alex Hutchings, going fast is a big reason he is projected highly in the upcoming 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

“[Hutchings] has speed and in the NHL that’s what we are looking for,” said Pittsburgh Penguins scout David McNamara. “He has a big lower half and is strong from the waist down. Let’s face it, in the new NHL more small guys can play, and if you are a smaller player, for example 5’10 – you have to be very quick. This is something he has and he will have a chance to play.”

After a successful 2005-06 minor-midget season in which he netted 65 goals in a 100-point campaign, Hutchings was drafted by the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the second-round (37th overall) of the 2006 OHL Priority Draft. In his three years of top-flight competition in the OHL, Hutchings has excelled.

“He brings an element; that he is dangerous every time he’s out on the ice,” said Barrie Colts General Manager Marty Williamson, who compared Hutchings to current NHLer Bryan Little of the Atlanta Thrashers. “The speed that he’s got, he can really burn and he’s got a good accurate shot. He’s been one of our go-to guys. He is in on one of every three goals we score.

“We’ve never really had a natural centerman to play with him, so he has done a lot on his own. We haven’t had a Cody Hodgson or Matt Duchene that would complement him real well. We have young kids playing in the middle. We are awfully proud of what [Hutchings] has done so far.”

At the start of the 2008-09 season, Hutchings was slotted into a leadership role after being named an assistant captain by the coaching staff. This move has paid big dividends for the Colts, and Hutchings leads the Colts offense with 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists).

“The thing that stands out most about Alex, is he’s got NHL speed, he’s got speed to burn,” said Colts assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom, who wears four Stanley Cup rings after a 14-year NHL career.

“Hutchings is a tough customer to contain. He plays in every situation for us and quarterbacks one of our power-play units.”

Hutchings’ maturity is at least part of the cause of his achievement.

“The biggest reason I’m here is my dedication,” said Hutchings. “You can’t be a guy who goes out partying. This is like a job. You have to take care of your body and get your rest. You need the right motivation and work ethic.”

In the summer you can find Hutchings up at his family’s cottage in Ontario, Canada.

“I go up to the cottage and dirt bike and go tubing, but I am also a member of a workout facility in Burlington during the summer.”

During the season, Hutchings plies his trade at the state-of-the-art, $45-million Barrie Molson Centre in Barrie, Ont. The Colts organization is well run and the team is heading to the OHL playoffs for the 14th-straight year.

“It’s an awesome rink with good ice and the city is awesome,” said Hutchings. “We have good fan support and the coaches, general managers and owners are all really good to us. It’s been a great three years and hopefully I can get in for another.”

Whether or not Hutchings can win a spot in the NHL next year remains to be seen, but he certainly has good reason be in Montreal, Canada for a weekend in June. The 2009 draft will be held at the Bell Centre on June 26-27, and if the scouts and draft lists are correct, then Hutchings will be in a NHL training camp in the near future.

Central Scouting has Hutchings ranked as the 48th-best North American skater, and International Scouting Services has him as the 55th-best skater overall.

“He’s a pretty dynamic player,” said Buffalo Sabres Amateur Scouting Coordinator Eric Weissman. “The first thing people see is his wonderful skating ability and speed. He is a little bit of a sparkplug kind of guy. The great thing he can do is create space among larger defenders and create chances for himself. I saw him play at the (OHL) Prospects game and thought he played great in a big venue.

“He is a smooth skater with powerful strides and if he continues to get stronger, keep understanding his game and his gifts, he will be a pretty exciting offensive player. He will have a lot of success.”

Hutchings main concern for now is his OHL team and the upcoming playoffs, but he has his eyes set on a weekend getaway in June to Montreal.

“I think I’ll be going to Montreal and will bring a few friends and family with me,” said Hutchings. “I’m just going to enjoy it and see where I go.”