By Andy Miller

Cole Hutson, a carbon copy of his brother Lane? 

Cole grew up in a hockey family, his dad played in the NCAA and two of his brothers are currently playing at BU, where Cole will play next season.  His brother, fellow defender Lane was drafted in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2022 draft.  Cole is playing on the USNTDP at the U18 level this year after a very strong season with the U17’s recording 42 points, including 8 goals in 42 games.  He actually recorded a higher ppg with the U18’s with 26 points in 19 games.  Hutson actually eclipsed the total points of Eiserman at the U18 worlds with 12 points.  He is a much more offensive defender, which is good since he is not a giant on the back end, but is a very fluid skater who changes directions with ease.

Cole likely has more potential than Lane, who most now think was a steal in the late second round.    He is an electric player on the ice who dances around with the puck on his stick and often dictates the play.   Hutson has the potential to be a PP1 Quarterback at the NHL level and be the offensive catalyst for a team from the back end.  While his defensive game is not his strength it is not a deficiency either as he is responsible and a capable defender.  He has the capability to be a Tory Krug or Sam Girard type defender at the NHL level in about 5 years time.  These are the best comparisons as his offensive side of the game is his strength.

The question is why is Hutson seen as a top prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft in June? Andy Miller with Draft Prospects Hockey breaks down Hutson’s game as he tries to answers that question.


Hutson has good foot speed and acceleration.  He skates well backwards and his transitions are seamless with or without the puck.    Hutson capably rushes the puck up the ice and creates havoc.  He sometimes will not be square to the play, likely because he is very confident in his skating ability.

You see Hutson’s ability to retreat and pick up the puck with ease and speed.  He then appears to call an audible on the play and takes the puck into the zone when the drop pass has not worked.  Not a lot happens offensively but you can see how he uses his edges and body to protect the puck on this play.

Here you see Hutson follow up the rush and fill in the high slot as the puck is retrieved he is ready and gets off a quality shot toward the net.

Puck Skill

Hutson is very good at protecting the puck from forecheckers and uses his edges to help with that.  He can corral passes that many others couldn’t, but at times he can get a bit too showy with the puck on his stick and take more time than needed.  Hutson can dictate the pace of the play when he has the puck on his stick.

Here you see him move up the ice with the puck and he demonstrates excellent skating, puckskill, decision making and scoring sense here.  He is able to read the play and support it and transition to leading the rush.  From there  makes some nice passes to create chances for his team and buys time to open lanes that allows him to get a quality shot on net too.  He returns to his defensive position at a good time after he supports down low.

Scoring Ability

Hutson has very good shot velocity and an incredible release.  His accuracy is good, even though he misses the net on this clip, he still makes a great read and has the ability to get to the dangerous areas on the ice and puts the puck up high as the goaltender is coming from low to high and moving laterally. 

Playmaking Ability

Hutson is a very creative player who is clearly engaged in the offensive side of the game.  He generates scoring chances for himself and his teammates routinely.  He opens up well (as could be seen in the Scoring Ability clip) and adjusts to poor passes.  Hutson capably makes good passes on the tape that are easy to receive.

Here we see Cole Hutson dancing around the offensive zone with the puck buying time and space while also exhibiting patience and waiting for a lane to open to make a pass or shoot.  He eventually gets a quality shot on net.

Hockey Sense/IQ

Hutson has excellent awareness on the ice, particularly when looking at the offensive side of things.  He sees lanes that are open or that he could open and finds them with good firm passes.  He typically makes quick decisions that are good on review.  He could improve his decision making in his defensive end as he frequently is looking to rush the puck up the ice, sometimes even before his team has possession and that can create some adventures.

Here you see him on the point on a 5 on 3 and he is moving most of the time, but when the puck gets to Eiserman on the far side he could do a bit more to be a passing option here and support his teammate under pressure.  This play required elevated reads for a player looking to be selected in the first round.

Here you see Hutson’s ability to control the play with the puck on his stick and he capably directs his teammates and is very aware of where the defenders are and directs them too.  He made better reads here then in the previous clip.


Hutson demonstrates leadership and character on the ice.  In this clip you see him directing traffic as the play exits the offensive zone and the team transitions to defend.  He is a reliable player who works hard and is very consistent for a young player.

Defensive play

Hutson is surprisingly responsible in the defensive zone and he frequently takes charge in his zone to ensure that the house is protected.  He is a reliable defender but this is not his area of strength as that is with the puck on the offensive side of the game.   He does use his skating ability to help him back check which will be displayed in a clip included shortly.

Here you see Hutson have a large gap in the neutral zone likely due to hinging to support his D partner, but he quickly closes due to his strong skating skills.  Moments later in the zone he uses some good edge work to work the puck out of the high slot and then keeps his hips facing his net and recovers to cover a player on the back door with ease.

You can see how Hutson maintains a good gap with his opponent and capably keeps in the lane and blocks the shot attempt with ease.  He is also still on his edges and can track down the loose puck too.  You see him enter the corner and come out with the puck and he knows exactly what he is doing and makes an excellent pass across the house to Cole Eiserman to start the breakout.

You see Hutson thinking offensive as he misreads a breakout for USNTDP that doesn’t happen and he has to rush back to help support and while he gets in the vicinity of the player out front he is not effective in checking him and gets lucky.

Hutson has a tough play where the puck ends up in his feet at the tops of the circles skating backwards and while he doesn’t do poorly his body language shows indecisiveness which ends up in a turnover and a quality chance.  He needs to find a way to keep the puck going around the boards or try to pin it to the boards here.  Not an easy play but if he is going to be a top NHL defender he needs to be able to execute that some of the time.


If you are looking for a mid-season rundown on the 2024 draft class as a whole be sure to pick up your copy of the Draft Prospects Hockey 2024 Preview Magazine available for instant download or print through Amazon.