Brandon Sutter was at a friends house Friday night when his cell phone rang.
It was the Canes Ron Francis calling from the NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, and the first thing Francis said was, I wish I was calling with better news ...
Francis told Sutter he had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Jordan Staal. The Canes also traded their first-round pick and defensive prospect Brian Dumoulin, but Sutter was the linchpin to the trade.
It takes you by surprise. You kind of feel like your heart kind of stops, Sutter said Monday. You just take a deep breath.
Its a whole new feeling for me. I really didnt see it coming at all, so it was a little bit of a shock to the system, especially the last couple of days. But I think Im a little more relaxed and getting kind of excited about it.
Sutter had not talked to the media until Monday. It took two days to come to grips that the fact the team that made him a first-round draft pick, that gave him a chance to play at 19, that made him an alternate captain, was trading him.
With the Canes, Sutter was seen as a defensive forward, centering the checking line, taking on the other teams best forwards players such as the Pens Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Hed like to think he can take on more of an offensive role with the Pens.
Sutter, 23, scored a career-high 21 goals in the 2009-2010 season. He followed with 14 and 17 goals the past two seasons, getting little power-play time.
I felt there was times where I was kind of stuck, where (the Canes) were expecting me to be good defensively, which was fine, he said. But in terms of offense, there wasnt a whole lot of opportunity.
I dont want to be looked at as just a defensive player. I want to score goals and do things, too.
Asked if he would feel pressure to replace Jordan Staal, Sutter said, Im coming in to do what Ive done. Im my own player. I dont feel like Im here to replace anyone.
Jordan obviously is a great player and a player you want to be like. I think hopefully I can one day try and find that level he was at in terms of offensive numbers. And I think I can.
But I dont want to feel like Im replacing someone. Obviously the Penguins had to make a deal and Im glad they picked me. Im going to a winning team where theres opportunity. I feel they chose me because they wanted me.
But leaving Carolina wont be easy, Sutter said.
Its always hard to leave a place where youre comfortable and know a lot of great people, he said. Its a part of the business. I have to move on. Its a new chapter for me.
Im four years into my career and yet have never played in a playoff game. For me its about winning. I want to help with that.