Michael Hutchinson is an example of what life in the NHL can look like if you’re a good player, but not a star player. As a goalie from nearby Barrie, Ontario, Hutchinson was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
After kicking around the Bruins’ organization for a few seasons, he was signed by the Winnipeg Jets in July 2013. He made the Jets roster that season, playing three solid games with a record of 2-1-0 a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.64 and a save percentage (SV%) of .943. Things looked good for his success as a young goalie.
Hutchinson’s Best Season Was With the Jets in 2014-15
For one more season, he seemed on track to become a successful NHL goalie. In 2014-15, Hutchinson had his best NHL season ever. In 38 games played, he put together a record of 21-10-5 with a GAA of 2.39 and a SV% of .914.
From there, his game went downhill. Although he didn’t put up horrible numbers, his record slipped over the next three seasons. The Jets moved him to the American Hockey League (AHL), but he eventually signed with the Florida Panthers in July 2018.
Hutchinson Becomes Goalie Insurance With the Maple Leafs
Just before Christmas 2018, Maple Leafs starting goalie Frederik Andersen suffered a groin injury. At the same time, backup goalie Garret Sparks took a shot off the mask during practice and was under concussion protocol. With both Maple Leafs goalies injured, general manager Kyle Dubas traded the team’s fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft for Hutchinson.
Hutchinson immediately became the starter and played two games. He played well, giving his team a chance to win in his first game and then beating the Vancouver Canucks in his second game. Although he was only playing because the Maple Leafs had no better option and nowhere else to turn, Hutchinson shut out the Canucks 5-0 on home ice.
Hutchinson was clearly happy. After the game, he admitted, “It’s awesome (playing for the Maple Leafs), it’s an amazing feeling, something you grow up thinking about as a kid and for it to actually happen is hard to put words to.”
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Hutchinson then became a yo-yo between the Toronto Marlies and the Maple Leafs for the next two seasons. Overall, he provided insurance in case the Maple Leafs were in desperate need.
Hutchinson Jumps to Denver to Help the Avalanche
However, in late February 2020, when the Colorado Avalanche also ran into goalie troubles, Hutchinson was traded from the Maple Leafs to the Avalanche for defenseman Calle Rosen. (The Maple Leafs saw Rosen the other night when they played the St. Louis Blues.)
Hutchinson helped the Avalanche extend their Stanley Cup run that season by winning Game 5 and Game 6 against the Dallas Stars in the Edmonton bubble that season. However, the Avalanche eventually lost in Game 7.
Hutchinson Returns to the Maple Leafs’ Organization
At the start of the 2020 regular season, the Maple Leafs re-signed Hutchinson once again as insurance. Again he moved up and down between the NHL’s Maple Leafs and the AHL’s Marlies for a couple of seasons.
Hutchinson played 28 games with the Marlies last season. He posted an 11-10-5 record, with a 3.23 GAA, and a .899 SV%. He wasn’t re-signed by the organization this season.
Hutchinson Moves to the Nevada Desert
In July 2022, Hutchinson signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Vegas Golden Knights. He entered the season as the fourth goalie on the Golden Knight’s organizational depth chart. Once again, the now 32-year-old Hutchinson is goalie insurance. That means he probably won’t see much NHL ice time this season.
And that’s what’s happened. On Oct. 1, the Golden Knights waived Hutchinson and moved him to their AHL affiliate the Henderson Silver Knights. Hutchinson is being paid the NHL league minimum of $750,000 if he hits NHL ice. However, he’s also being paid $400,000 to play in the desert with the Silver Knights.
Hutchinson Is Still in Goal, But Perhaps Never Again in the NHL
On Oct. 5, Vegas recalled Hutchinson to the NHL but he didn’t see action. He’s the Golden Knights’ third-string goalie behind Logan Thompson and Adin Hill. This season, the Golden Knights’ regular starter Robin Lehner has been out with a hip injury.
Because Hutchinson passed through waivers unclaimed, he can move freely between levels until he accrues 30 days on the NHL roster. In October, Hutchinson was reassigned to Henderson and he’s been there since.
Thus far, the hockey goalie pilgrim and the ultimate example of goalie insurance has played six games with the Silver Knights. His GAA is 2.68 and his SV% is .899. But, living in a Las Vegas suburb and playing occasionally with Henderson is not a bad life for a young family.
Hutchinson Lived His Dream in Toronto
Hutchinson might never play another NHL game. Last season, he played two with the Maple Leafs and his GAA was a high 4.56. From the outside, he has been little more than a journeyman goalie, but it also seems as if he’s had a good life playing the game he’s loved.
During his time with the Maple Leafs, the Barrie, Ontario, native shared that playing with the Blue and White was a dream he’d always had. That dream came true. He had that chance, and he probably carries some good memories with him because of it.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf