23 Options for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft - Cole Hutson

How funny would this one be, right?
NTDP defenseman Cole Hutson (#23) at the All-American Game
NTDP defenseman Cole Hutson (#23) at the All-American Game / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages
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Cole Hutson does a lot of what made his brother Lane such an interesting player.

He's a mobile, offensively pressing defenseman who excels at finding ways to produce by himself, and have good deceptiveness in their skating and puck movement.

Both were strong playmakers who did well creating in transition and pushing the game forward. Cole is a bit more physical at the same age, but has two inches on his older brother.

Like Lane, the two aren't the most physically challenging defenders. Cole benefited from playing alongside EJ Emery, one of the draft's best defensive defensemen, playing to Hutson's strength of playing upwards almost as a 4th forward.

He's a creative player who makes a lot of flashy and accurate passes that set up a lot of good chances for his teammates. He could be a top-four NHL defenseman, but he could also use an Emery to cover him on defense when needed. Hutson also has the quick skating to get back into position relatively quickly, and he's solid as a defender.

What seperates Lane from Cole is Lane's exceptional skating and explosiveness with the puck. Cole is good at those areas, he's not Lane. It's a little revisionist to argue that Lane was the better prospect at the same age, because many scouts were fairly uncertain about the size. Cole had Lane to back up that this sort of archetype can grow and still be a top prospect, Lane didn't get that luxury of having a Lane before him.

For what it's worth, I had Lane ranked 35th back in 2022, and Cole will probably be just a tad lower when I finish my 2024 rankings, somewhere in the late 30's to early 40's.

I want to say Cole is his own player, he's not just his brother, but he sort of is, in a good way. It's still not a certainty Lane is an NHLer, and Cole by extension, but the upside has proven it's there in both of them. At his best, Cole could be a top defenseman, and a leader on the power play.