Vancouver Canucks: 3 Players Headed for Breakout Seasons

Sep 28, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brandon Sutter (21) against the Arizona Coyotes in the third period period at Rogers Arena. Vancouver won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brandon Sutter (21) against the Arizona Coyotes in the third period period at Rogers Arena. Vancouver won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 7, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (21) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

C Brandon Sutter

You might not have expected this one, but Brandon Sutter is due for a breakout year. The 27-year-old just had the biggest setback of his career, missing 62 games in the 2015-16 season after signing with the Canucks as the new second-line center. Despite that, he had five goals and nine points. Sutter has always been a good two-way player but we are still waiting for the big offensive breakout.

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When he broke into the league in 2008, Sutter filled a bottom-six role behind Eric Staal and Rod Brind’Amour. That changed with Brind’Amour’s retirement and Sutter promptly posted a career-high (to this date) 21 goals and 40 points. But, he struggled the next two seasons, was never relied on as an offensive player, and was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins to play on the third line behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin. Great.

When the Canucks acquired Sutter in 2015, they wanted to give him second-line ice time to shelter sophomore Bo Horvat. Things didn’t quite work out, Horvat was thrust into Sutters role and we still don’t know what Vancouver has in Sutter. That should change in 2015-16.

If Sutter can stay healthy for the full season — which is what he did every year prior to 2015 — we should see a nice point increase from him. The middle six will likely be interchangeable this season, so there will not be a clear-cut second and third line. Still, Sutter should see the ice time of a second-line player. His potential linemates include scorers Jannik Hansen, Sven Baertschi and Anton Rodin, who will influence Sutter’s actual production.

I won’t blame you if you doubt Sutter can suddenly score 50 points. But I am sure he has the potential. Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg played his first season as a second-line center at age 30, and he had 51 points in 2015-16. So there’s hope.

Next: Outlook