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Hutson rides brother's wave to the NHL draft


Cole Hutson remembers the hype in Montreal two years ago when his older brother, Lane, got picked by the Canadiens in the NHL draft.  

"The city was pretty crazy," the US National Team Development Program defenceman said. "I remember seeing a random guy with a shirt and it had Lane's face on it. This is before he was even picked, so that said a lot about that city. They're crazy for hockey. I think it's the best possible place Lane could've went."

Lane, a defenceman who stood just 5-foot-8, 158 pounds in his draft season, didn't get picked until late in the second round, 62nd overall. 

"Hearing his name called was pretty crazy and surreal," said Cole, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds. "I'm just hoping to hear my name called a little sooner than his."

It's certainly trending in that direction. After completing a point-per-game season, Cole came in No. 26 on the final list of top prospects compiled by TSN director of scouting Craig Button. Wouldn't you know it, the Canadiens own the 26th pick courtesy a trade with the Winnipeg Jets

Cole followed Lane's path to the US NTDP and next year will take his spot at Boston University. He can't help but consider a reunion in Montreal. 

"That would be really cool," said Cole, who will turn 18 on June 28 when the first round of the draft takes place in Las Vegas. "That's kind of something that probably wouldn't feel real ever. If I got the chance to play with him, I definitely wouldn't [be] upset. We got so much practice together in the summers and growing up together. We definitely wouldn't [be] upset."  

Regardless of who picks him, Cole is eager to secure family bragging rights. 

"I'd definitely let it sit for a little bit so it's not too harsh on him," Cole promised with a smile. "I'd feed it to him here and there, but nothing too serious." 

Cole sounds confident, but will arrive in Nevada next week without any expectations. 

"I'm probably just as clueless as anyone else," he said. "I haven't really heard anything from teams, so nothing is promised. I think I can go anywhere from 15 to 70. I mean, anything can happen. A team wants to jump on me, I don't blame them. I definitely won't upset them."

Teams may already be regretting not jumping on Lane earlier. He helped Team USA win gold at the World Juniors this year before reaching the Frozen Four and making his NHL debut in April.

In a conversation with TSN, Cole outlined how he is similar and different from his brother and also reflected on his combine conversation with the Canadiens. The following is an edited transcript of the interview. 

TSN: What's the No. 1 thing you've learned from Lane?

Cole Hutson: I've had the pleasure of skating with him my whole life. I've looked up to him in everything I've done. I've taken everything possible from his game and tried to emulate it. There's not a specific thing I can point out, but I think we're pretty similar players. 

TSN: How much do you feed off what he does? 

Cole Hutson: A lot. Everything he does is pretty special, obviously. He did big things in college hockey, so I'm hoping to carry on the legacy that he left off.

TSN: What do you think he's proven since being drafted? 

Cole Hutson: He went into the draft as a pretty small kid, but he grew a little bit since then. He's been having to fight off the size thing his whole life and I've done the same. It was nothing too big for him.

TSN: How have you handled the size questions? 

Cole Hutson: Lucky enough, I'm not as small, so I didn't hear it as much as him. But I've been dealing with it my whole life and just keep going.

TSN: Did you get questions about it at the combine? 

Cole Hutson: Ah, maybe one or two. A lot of teams said I was bigger than they thought, so that's always a plus. 

TSN: Lane has grown a couple inches since his draft year. How much room do you think you have to grow?

Cole Hutson: I'm no doctor, but I'd say I still have some time to grow. Maybe an inch or two, if I'm lucky. 

TSN: How are you guys similar on the ice? 

Cole Hutson: Our offensive minds. Every summer we'd just mess around on the ice and have fun with the game and try to master little things that maybe people haven't tried in games and bring it to life. He's kind of started a new wave of defencemen, so I've been trying to do the same thing. It's been working out so far. 

TSN: What was your most creative play from the last season? 

Cole Hutson: I don't even know. I always try and do some pretty crazy stuff. 

TSN: How are you and Lane different? 

Cole Hutson: Probably the size thing. I'm not scared of the physical game. Not saying he is either, but I kind of love that part of the game and people don't know that about me.  

TSN: What are you guys like off the ice? 

Cole Hutson: Pretty laid-back and chill. But any time it's game time in sports we get pretty serious. 

TSN: Your other brothers, 22-year-old Boston University forward Quinn and 15-year-old defenceman Lars, also play hockey. I imagine the sibling rivalry was intense growing up. Where were you in the pecking order? 

Cole Hutson: We'd flip-flop teams here and there. A lot of the time growing up it'd be me and Lane on the same team, so we'd be at the top of the leaderboard for a lot of it. 

TSN: What was your combine interview like with the Canadiens?

Cole Hutson: I went into it knowing a lot of scouts in there, so we kind of pretended like we really didn't know each other and we're meeting for the first time. Yeah, I thought it went really well. They're great people and they clearly know hockey. 

TSN: Did you have any inside information courtesy Lane? 

Cole Hutson: Nothing too serious. They got to keep their secrets and I get it. We kept it pretty formal. 

TSN: What was the toughest question you faced at the combine?

Cole Hutson: Probably the one with the Canadiens. 

TSN: What animal you would be? 

Cole Hutson: I said narwhal. 

TSN: Were you ready for that question? 

Cole Hutson: I thought about it like 20 minutes before. I was texting Lane, 'What should I say?' He told me to say shark because they roam the waters and they can attack when they want, but I was like, 'I'm going to throw a curve ball at them and say something crazy.' 

TSN: Who is your NHL role model? 

Cole Hutson: I watch a lot of Adam Fox and Quinn Hughes

TSN: What do you like about them? 

Cole Hutson: The way Adam Fox is able to create plays from little or nothing. I like Quinn Hughes' skating. I like his edge work and the way he's able to create plays with his skating and get himself out of danger.

TSN: Where did you improve the most this season? 

Cole Hutson: I think just maturing my game. I went into the year knowing my flaws. The first week I was there I went over everything I had to work on with my coaches and we kind of picked apart my game. In every game from the start of the year I got better. 

TSN: What were the flaws?

Cole Hutson: My defensive game. You can never be too good at that. I just wanted to get as good as I can possibly be at it. One of those things was closing the play before it even develops by skating the gap, and then joining the rush even without the puck, and being on top of guys even when they're not expecting it. 

TSN: You racked up 13 points in seven games at the under-18 World Championship en route to being named the top defenceman. What did you like about your play at that event? 

Cole Hutson: Going into the tournament, I didn't know if I was going to play or not because I was dealing with a high ankle sprain. I went into the tournament just hoping I could play and do the bare minimum almost. Obviously I wasn't 100 per cent, so I had to work with what I had. I had to change my game a little bit due to mobility reasons. The team game played right into my play style, and it worked out well. 

TSN: When did you get hurt? 

Cole Hutson: It was the first game of March against Waterloo. There was like three minutes left in the game so pretty unfortunate. I caught a puck from one of my teammates and I was walking downhill, and I pulled the puck in between my legs and shot, shot it through the defender's legs, and he stepped up and hit me. I put my legs up and tried to reverse the hit and my ankle kind of crunched up. 

TSN: How close were you to 100 per cent at the tournament? 

Cole Hutson: Probably like 70, 75 maybe. 

TSN: Why did you play? 

Cole Hutson: The plan was to play the whole time. We never thought it would take a month and a half to rehab. The original plan was to wait until the quarter-finals, but I tried it the first game and felt okay. It wasn't too bad. It was still there, but decided to battle it out. I'd go out for the pre-game skate and try new tape jobs and see what I could bear with the pain with and get the mobility I needed. 

TSN: Is it the most pain you've had to play through? 

Cole Hutson: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. 

TSN: What did it mean to set the all-time scoring record for defencemen at the NTDP (119 points in 112 games)? 

Cole Hutson: It's something I didn't really think about during the year. It still hasn't quite sunk in. It's probably something I'll look back on when I'm done playing hockey when I'm 40 or 50 and maybe something I'll appreciate a bit more. 

TSN: What's the most notable message you got afterwards?

Cole Hutson: Obviously my whole team was pretty happy for me, and my coaches all congratulated me and saying, 'That’s a pretty crazy thing to do.' But I didn't really think much of it. I just thought it was another point. I guess it's pretty cool.