Ben Hutton has found a new home in the National Hockey League — and it’s only 26 miles from his last stop.
The former University of Maine All-American defenseman, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, has signed a one-year deal worth a reported $950,000 with the Anaheim Ducks.
Hutton was an unrestricted free agent but was confident he would land with an NHL team and Anaheim was the best fit for him. He spent the previous four seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.
“I’m excited to get started,” said the 27-year-old Hutton, who just came off a mandated seven-day COVID-19 quarantine since he arrived in Anaheim from Canada.
He hopes to practice with the team for the first time on Tuesday.
Hutton played in 65 games for the Kings last season and notched four goals and 12 assists. His 109 shots on goal in 5-on-5 situations was top among Kings defensemen and fifth most on the team.
He also blocked 67 shots.
Hutton has registered 15 goals and 71 assists in 341 career NHL games.
“I thought I had a good year last year. But the Kings wanted to go elsewhere and so did I,” he said.
Hutton talked to other teams but liked the idea of staying in California and in a division he is familiar with. The Kings, Ducks and Canucks were all in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.
“I’m happy in California,” said the native of Prescott, Ontario.
In the new realignment, the Ducks, Kings, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights and Phoenix Coyotes are again in the same division, now called the West Division. Former Pacific Division teams Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are all in the new all-Canadian division.
The 27-year-old Hutton, who owns the UMaine record for goals in a season by a defenseman (15 during 2013-14) said he wants to continue to play well defensively.
“I’d like to shag a few more points. Maybe I’ll jump up into the rush more,” he said.
Hutton was a fifth-round draft pick (147th overall) of Vancouver in 2012 and won a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2016 World Championships in Russia.
He said former UMaine teammate Devin Shore, an ex-Duck now playing in Edmonton, filled him in on some of the best restaurants in Anaheim.