Grant Hutton didn’t take the usual route to the NHL.
“It’s been a much longer road for me than I would say for most guys playing in the NHL,” Hutton said. “I played my first NHL game at 26 years old. You don’t see that very often.”
The 2013 Carmel High School graduate played his debut NHL game for the New York Islanders in November 2021
“I was up for a month, went back to the minors,” Hutton said. “It’s been a bit of a crazy year with everything going on with COVID and injuries. There’s probably 20 transactions of me going up and down.”
That made what happened April 9 even more special when the defenseman scored his first career goal, a shot from the blue line through traffic, in a game against the host St. Louis Blues.
“It was a special moment,” Hutton said. “The funny thing was, we had about 20 people there to see me when we played in Columbus. Everyone said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you scored your first goal?’ But it didn’t happen.”
No family attended in St. Louis, but his parents, G.R. and Tracy Hutton, and friends were watching back at home.
“I think they had a decent group watching, so it was cool to get messages from all of them after the game when I got off the ice,” said Hutton, whose brother, Matt, plays NCAA Division III hockey at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. “I probably got a couple of hundred texts from friends, family, teammates I hadn’t talked to in 10 years.”
The 6-foot-4 Hutton was sent back April 22 to the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport (Conn.) Islanders. The NHL regular season ended April 29 and the Islanders failed to make the playoffs.
Hutton has played in 16 NHL games in his career, something that seemed unlikely at one point. He played junior hockey in Texas his senior year in high school but was able to graduate from CHS. He then played two more years of juniors before going to college.
“At one point, (I) questioned whether I wanted to keep going,” Hutton said. “It was definitely a viable option for me to hang (the skates) up and go to school. My parents told me it’s what I want. There was no pressure to play hockey or no pressure to quit hockey and go to school. I chose to stick with it.”
He finally got his only Division I offer from Miami (Ohio) University.
“It just so happened to be two hours away from Carmel, so that was an ideal situation for me and my family and one I wasn’t going to pass up because it was really my only option,” he said. “I was the only freshman defenseman. I didn’t necessarily expect to play right away. We had four or five senior defenseman. I somehow managed to get in the lineup opening night. I took that opportunity and ran with it. By junior year, I had a chance to turn pro and sign an NHL contract, but I felt I owed it to myself and family to finish out my education.”
Hutton played four seasons with Miami and earned his degree in business. Hutton signed a free agent entry level contract with the Islanders in March 2019.
“I had multiple teams interested, and it came down to picking what I felt was the best fit for me and what I valued,” Hutton said. “The Islanders take a lot of pride in accountability and commitment to not just yourself, but to the organization and the fans. I’m going to be a free agent at the end of the season, and we’ll see what the future holds. This year has shown me that it’s all worth it. It’s a great feeling for me and my family.”