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Canes Looking for Long-term Sutter Deal

Friday, 05.20.2011 / 1:52 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Looking for Long-term Sutter Deal

To those merely glancing at the offensive numbers, it may appear that Brandon Sutter took a step back in year three of his professional career. If there was ever a player whose contributions can’t be fully expressed by statistics, it’s him.

Paul Branecky
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We’ll give it a shot anyway. His plus-13 plus/minus rating was at least eight points higher than any of his teammates – a significant outlier that adds meaning to an often imperfect stat. That wasn’t simply a matter of out-scoring the opposition’s fourth-line players, as he was regularly tasked with going head-to-head against the best offensive skaters in the league. At just 22 years of age, he was the youngest to lead his team in plus/minus, besting San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (plus-19) by eight months.

That’s just part of why Hurricanes General Manger Jim Rutherford recently identified Sutter, a player who scored a relatively modest 14 goals last season, as a core member of his team along with Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner.

“Those are four guys that you can build around and ultimately have a chance to win the cup again,” he said.

Although his status as a restricted free agent doesn’t put the Hurricanes in an awful rush to sign Sutter to a new contract, it remains a priority for the organization and should not prove extremely difficult.

Brandon Sutter quietly does an exceptional job in this league,” said Rutherford. “He gets very little power-play time, kills penalties, plays against the other team’s top line and, as we know, is a very young player. What I’d like to do is sign him to a long-term contract.”

 “From my perspective it will be an easy process,” said Sutter.

According to Rutherford, Sutter’s new contract could be similar in length to deals of seven and six years recently signed by Staal and Ward, respectively. By making that commitment to a player who saw his offensive totals decline by seven goals and 11 points from his 2009-10 breakout season, the Canes are acknowledging that opportunity played a factor.

As Rutherford alluded to, Sutter was not a regular on the Hurricanes’ power play, logging just over 63 minutes on the man advantage for the entire season. Compare that to the team’s top six forwards, a group that remained relatively stable all season with the exception of Cory Stillman taking over for Sergei Samsonov in March. Those players easily topped the 200-minute mark, with Eric Staal well into the 300s.

When Sutter scored the Hurricanes’ first power-play goal of the season in the Helsinki opener, one probably would not have guessed that would be his only such tally of the season. His other goals all came at even strength, as he finished with more such markers than power-play mainstays Tuomo Ruutu (12) and Jussi Jokinen (11).

Although he likely wouldn’t mind some time on the power play – he scored 5 man-advantage goals the previous season with roughly twice as many minutes – he seems content to continue in his current role.

“Everybody wants to score goals,” said Sutter. “I do too, there’s no better feeling, but if I’m solid at both ends of the rink, that’s my job and I won’t waver from that.”

Still, his time may come. Even though he’ll be entering his fourth NHL season this fall, he’s just one month older than San Jose’s Logan Couture and over one year younger than the New York Islanders’ Michael Grabner – two of the league’s rookie of the year finalists along with Skinner.

Even if that window doesn’t open right away, it’s not as though he’ll be underused. Last season, he ranked third among Hurricanes forwards in total ice time behind just Staal and Erik Cole. No forward featured more prominently on the penalty kill.

No matter what kind of a scorer he turns out to be, if the Hurricanes have their way, he’ll continue to be a major all-around contributor for a long time.


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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
5 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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