With the Carolina Hurricanes needing an extra forward for Friday’s game against Buffalo, Checkers captain Brett Sutter is heading back to the NHL.
Though an official announcement has not yet been made, Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller first broke the news during his meeting with the media in Raleigh, with Checkers coach Jeff Daniels later confirming it following Thursday’s practice.
Sutter will begin his third NHL stint of the season, having played nine of his 27 career NHL games during this campaign.
“He’s a guy that’s played reliable up here and is hard-nosed,” Muller told the media in Raleigh following Thursday’s practice. “That goes with the message we’re trying to preach right now. We’ve got to have that tenacious mentality a little more.”
“What you see is what you get with Suttsy,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels. “He’s been an important part of our team with the way he leads in games.”
Sutter is expected to fill in for Patrick Dwyer, who has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury. The roster spot became open when the Hurricanes reassigned Zac Dalpe to Charlotte on Wednesday, with Dwyer now practicing but not yet cleared for contact.
In eight games with the Hurricanes this season, Sutter has 3 assists, two of which came in his most recent three games on either side of Thanksgiving. Sutter has also been chipping in offensively at the AHL level of late with 5 points (1g, 4a) in his last six contests.
That being said, it sounds like the more well-known defensive part of his game is what earned him the call.
“I think they’re looking for a center and someone who could possibly kill penalties,” said Daniels. “I hope it works out well for him.”
Sutter’s recall could leave the Checkers needing to find another forward for their road trip, with Chris Durno, Riley Nash and Justin Shugg all missing Thursday’s practice. Durno and Shugg have missed the team’s last two and seven games, respectively, while Nash was absent for the latter portion of the first period during Wednesday’s win against San Antonio but returned to finish the game and score the winning goal in the third.
Even with Matt Beca up from ECHL Florida, the Checkers would be left with just 11 forwards if none of the above players are able to play. They will have at least seven defensemen thanks to Derek Joslin joining the team on a conditioning stint on Wednesday, with Chris Murray, a healthy scratch for the last nine games, likely on his way back to Florida as he was missing from practice on Thursday.
The next two games against divisional rivals will be big for the Checkers, as they take on Milwaukee, who trails them by four points with five games in hand, on Saturday before visiting Chicago for the second consecutive week on Sunday.