Ex-Cane Sutter gets set for new start

calexander@newsobserver.comJune 25, 2012 

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The Carolina Hurricanes' Brandon Sutter (16) shoots against the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur (30) during the first period of an NHL game played between the Carolina Hurricanes and the N.J. Devils at the PNC Center in Raleigh, N.C. on March 31, 2012.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

Brandon Sutter was at a friend’s 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.

“It’s a whole new feeling for me. I really didn’t 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 I’m 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 team’s best forwards – players such as the Pens’ Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. He’d 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 wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity.

“I don’t 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, “I’m coming in to do what I’ve done. I’m my own player. I don’t feel like I’m 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 don’t want to feel like I’m replacing someone. Obviously the Penguins had to make a deal and I’m glad they picked me. I’m going to a winning team where there’s opportunity. I feel they chose me because they wanted me.”

But leaving Carolina won’t be easy, Sutter said.

“It’s always hard to leave a place where you’re comfortable and know a lot of great people,” he said. “It’s a part of the business. I have to move on. It’s a new chapter for me.

“I’m four years into my career and yet have never played in a playoff game. For me it’s about winning. I want to help with that.”

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