Hutchinson on waivers, Heward to the rescue
Defenseman Andrew Hutchinson simply played himself off the team and is on waivers with the intention of either trading him or, more likely, sending him to AHL Norfolk. He could clear at noon today. To replace the lost depth, Tampa Bay brought over veteran Jamie Heward, who, technically, is still on his tryout contract but is expected to sign a regular two-way deal. He has joined the team. It is unclear if he will play Saturday.
"That," hockey ops chief Brian Lawton said, "is up to the coaches."
As for Hutchinson, he is the preseason's biggest disappointment. Signed to a two-year, one-way, $1-million contract that pays the same whether he is in the NHL or the minors, Hutchinson was supposed to provide veteran leadership and play point on the power play. But he has struggled and played especially poorly Tuesday against HC Slovan.
"For whatever reason it's taken him a little bit to get comfortable and he wasn't playing his game," Lawton said." He was the AHL defenseman of the year last year and didn't perform that way."
Heward, who came to preseason on a tryout contract, said he was in Norfolk deciding whether to stay with the team as a player or coach or maybe some combination of both. He was there one day, when he got the call, hopping a flight to Atlanta and then to Prague. He showed up early this morning.
"It was a quick turnaround," he said. "I'm really excited to be here, there's no question about that."
Heward, 37, last played in the NHL in 2006-07, playing 71 games with the Kings and Capitals and getting six goals and 24 points. He played last season in Russia. He had two goals, 17 points in 53 games.
"My goal is to try to stay up here and help in any capacity I can," he said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."