Checkers captain Brett Sutter, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks, has signed a new deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The contract signed by Sutter, who turned 26 earlier this month, is another one-year, two-way pact similar to the one that was set to expire on July 5. However, it does guarantee him at least $250,000 regardless of how much time he spends in the NHL, up from $150,000 last season.
In his sixth professional campaign last season, Sutter set career highs at the AHL level with 19 goals, including 17 at even strength, and 29 assists. Thanks in part to three separate four-point outings that set personal highs and tied the Checkers’ franchise record, his 48 total points ranked second on the team behind Chris Terry.
“Obviously the goal is for him to make Carolina, and he opened a lot of eyes,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. “They’re trying to get grittier, especially on those bottom two lines, and that’s going to be his role. He’s tough to play against, he can play the center or the wing and he can kill penalties, but now he’s shown that he can make a few plays.
“He’s playing for a roster spot there, but if it doesn’t work out, we know what we’re getting with him. We’d love to have him back.”
Sutter will enter next season in contention for a depth role on a Hurricanes team that should have job openings for players of his makeup. With the team committing more salary and cap space to high-end players in recent years – a trend that may continue as it searches for established defensemen – the timing has never been better for the likes of Sutter and Nicolas Blanchard to make their marks.
“It’s going to be a really interesting training camp,” said Daniels. “There’s disappointment with not making the playoffs, so they’re going to be looking for players who can make them better. Hopefully guys that were with us last season show up in shape and are able to do that.”
In 37 career NHL games with Calgary and Carolina, including three with the Hurricanes last season, Sutter has totaled one goal and four assists.
Sutter becomes the first in-house free agent to be re-signed by Carolina since the end of last season. A full rundown of the Checkers’ contract situation can be found here.