In his first full season back after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2017 East Division Semifinals, Chad Tutton used the 2018-19 campaign to show exactly what his game is now that he’s 100% healthy.
“His job was to play defense first, and it went from there,” Swarm assistant coach Sean Ferris said. “Early in his career, he focused on transition, but as he’s come back from an injury, Chad’s concentrated on defense first, on being a good defender.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that wasn’t the case after the Swarm’s season-opening win where Tutton scored the first Swarm goal of the season, a strong diving goal from the left side. But as the season progressed, so did the University of North Carolina product’s commitment to delivering punishing hits and shutting down opponents.
Granted, a lot of the evidence for how defensive-minded Tutton has become relies on the eye-test, and we’ve performed that already this season after he terrorized the Saskatchewan Rush in January.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Looking at his career stats, Tutton’s offensive numbers have dropped compared to his All-Rookie campaign, but other key stats have drastically improved.
After 36 penalty minutes (PIM) as a rookie, Tutton has averaged just under 18 PIM each of the past three seasons. His loose ball and caused turnovers have been steady, and he has drastically reduced his turnovers from an average of 24 in his first two seasons to 9.5 his last two.
Until a player gets back on the floor from a devastating injury, you never know whether or not they’ll play the same as they did pre-injury. Tutton put those fears to rest with his healthy and impactful 2019 season, showing why he’s considered by the Swarm coaches as one of the top five Swarm defensemen.
Tutton has a habit of evenly sprinkling his caused turnovers over the course of the season then giving that stat total a huge boost with a big game. The Courtice, Ontario native had four games in his first three seasons where he recorded four or more caused turnovers.
2019 was no exception. Tutton recorded 25% of his total caused turnovers in just one game against the Rush, and his efforts – particularly in the first quarter – were a big part of the Swarm’s fifth win of the season.
But not all caused turnovers are the same; what you do with them matters. And no one can turn a big turnover into a bigger play quite like Chad Tutton can.
In the season series-deciding game against the New England Black Wolves on Feb. 1, Tutton caused a huge turnover at the end of the first quarter, pressing Seth Oakes into the boards to dislodge the ball. Scooping the loosie with seconds left on the clock, Tutton launched a bouncer over the mid-floor line and into the empty net, bringing the first 15 minutes to an emphatic close.
While Tutton’s role has changed to be more defense-oriented, his transition playmaking ability still rears its head from time to time and can shift the course of a game in seconds.
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