When the Predators acquired veteran goaltender Devan Dubnyk in a trade last month, the idea was to stabilize the team’s shaky goaltending situation.

It’s done just that — though not necessarily the way the Predators had expected.

Whether by coincidence or not, rookie goalie Carter Hutton — expected to be relegated to reserve status when Dubnyk arrived — has taken his game to another level over the past few weeks.

In seven appearances since the Dubnyk trade, Hutton has posted a 5-1-1 record, a .916 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average. He not only has secured the team’s No. 1 goaltender spot, but also helped the Predators creep closer to the Western Conference’s final playoff berth.

“I think he has been (motivated by the trade),” Predators coach Barry Trotz said of Hutton. “Devan came in and with the experience he had, everybody had the same assumption (about Dubnyk starting). But we have to go on results. Every practice, every day is sort of a new tryout for the both of them. Huts has given us a chance to win some hockey games and get some points, so it’s all a credit to him.”

Predators goalie coach Mitch Korn also thinks Hutton has raised his game since Dubnyk arrived, noting Hutton appears to have taken the trade as a challenge — not as a slight.

“I do think the trade for Devan was a motivating factor,” Korn said. “(He took it) the right way. That’s one of the reasons he was signed in the first place — high character and high work ethic. And it has surfaced.”

Of course as much as it looks like the trade has sparked Hutton, it also should be noted that some of his improvement is simply the evolution of a goalie who’d played only one NHL game in his four professional seasons before this year.