The Checkers will need a new captain next season.
After not agreeing to a new contract with the Hurricanes before the July 1 deadline, center Brett Sutter signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Minnesota Wild. Sutter, who wore the letter C on his jersey for the last three seasons in Charlotte, had been with the Carolina organization since November of 2010.
Sutter leaves the Carolinas ranked third on the Checkers’ all-time points (142) and assists (86) lists. He is fourth in goals (56) and games played (255), having enjoyed a transformation from role player to top-line scorer at the AHL level in recent years. He was the second captain in team history, having taken over for Bryan Rodney following its inaugural AHL season.
Sutter is the third member of last season’s team to officially sign elsewhere, joining defenseman Mark Flood (KHL) and goaltender Mike Murphy (Austria). Along with Nicolas Blanchard, Matt Corrente, Aaron Palushaj and others, he was one of a handful of unrestricted free agents who were still on the market as of this posting. Former Checkers goaltender Justin Peters, who had more or less graduated to an NHL role last season, signed with the Washington Capitals earlier Monday.
In addition to needing to fill Sutter’s leadership void, the Hurricanes will likely be in the market for a center who can fill a similar scoring role in Charlotte and be in the mix for NHL recalls when necessary. One of the internal candidates to fill that role is his cousin Brody, who is the only remaining Sutter from a previous group of three that also included Brandon Sutter, now of Pittsburgh Penguins.
Earlier Monday, the Hurricanes signed Brad Malone, recently of the Colorado Avalanche organization, to be their new fourth-line center – a position that Brett Sutter filled at the start of last season. Another notable transaction from the first few hours of free agency saw former Checkers defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti sign with Vancouver following a season in the KHL.