Throughout the Vancouver Canucks offseason, we will take a look at what they need to do in order to be successful next season. Let’s take a look at what they need to do. One of these things should be a Brandon Sutter trade.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning brought in Brandon Sutter by trade from Pittsburgh and called him a “foundational piece” that would help them compete for the playoffs. Unfortunately, that hasn’t really happened. Sutter hasn’t been the player they hoped to see when they brought in.
Sutter has been known for his two-way defensive penalty killer type of play. When he is healthy, we see his two-way game but most of the time, he really doesn’t do anything on the ice. With Adam Gaudette and Jay Beagle rounding out as the bottom six centres, I think is time to trade Sutter. Here’s why.
Sutter’s time with the Canucks, injuries and underachieving
Sutter has had an interesting time with the Canucks. He played second line minutes in 2015-16 and parts of 2016-17. In four seasons with the Canucks, Sutter has 74 points in 185 games. Many of these games were missed due to injury. I guess injuries is the word, that best sums up his time with the Canucks.
In 2015-16 he only played 20 games due to sports hernia surgery and a broken jaw. Last season he only played 26 games due to groin injuries. He had four goals and two assists this season and a Corsi for of 38.9%. Over his time with the Canucks, Sutter has shown he can be a reliable two-way shutdown centre but most of the time, he just doesn’t really do much.
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Gaudette and Beagle have taken his spot
Gaudette should be the third line centre going forward. He has shown he has belonged in the bottom six and has even played on the second unit power play. Gaudette is showing flashes of the Hobey Baker Winner he was last season. He has got more flare than Sutter in the third line spot. Defensively, I think he has been better than Sutter. Gaudette had a Corsi Against per 60 minutes of 52.6% while Sutter had 68.6% Ca/60.
As you can see from the chart above, Gaudette beats out Sutter in shot contributions and zone entries. Yes, Sutter is more a defensive player but he is known for contributing offensively. Even when Sutter is healthy, Gaudette still beats him out in offensive contributions. Gaudette contributes more to the team’s shots and scoring and can make better entries into the offensive zone better.
Beagle was signed last summer because of his leadership, defensive abilities, faceoff skill and penalty killing. Sutter has those qualities as well but he has trouble staying in the lineup. Beagle is very similar to Sutter except he is more defensive.
I don’t really see why the Canucks should keep an injury prone Sutter when Beagle can be that bottom six defensive forward instead. Beagle has made the Canucks penalty kill ranked 11th in the NHL. Sutter played 81 games in 2016-17 and 61 games in 2017-18 and the penalty kill was ranked 28th and 21st. Basically, Beagle can do the things Sutter does but a little bit better. Plus the Canucks signed him to a four year deal — and the Canucks do not need two shutdown lines — the Canucks need a bottom six who can contribute offensively.
Speaking of contracts, Sutter signed a five-year $21.875 million extension back in August 2015. That means he earns $ 4.375 million per year. The Canucks are going to need the cap space to give contracts to guys like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser so I think that trading Sutter would help clear some cap space so they can re-sign players like Pettersson and Quinn Hughes when their entry-level deals expire.
What a Possible Trade Would Look Like and Possible Destinations
Now, this does not mean that I think Sutter is a bad player. I just think he is overpaid and injury prone and that the Canucks don’t really need him anymore. I still think he is a good fourth line defensive centre.
The Canucks could trade him to a contending team that would benefit from his services. For example, the Washington Capitals were the worst face off team in the NHL last season and their best faceoff man was Nic Dowd who had 51.9%. Sutter had a down year in faceoffs with 48.9% but he has gone from 51% to 54% in the faceoff circle in the past.
The New York Islanders could use Sutter because I don’t think they will resign Valterri Flippula. They could use Sutter as a third or fourth line centre.
The San Jose Sharks could use Sutter as an upgrade from their current fourth liner centre, Barclay Goodrow. They could use Sutter as a piece down the middle in their bottom six.
Sutter may be worth a mid round pick (Third or fourth maybe?) and maybe a middle tier prospect. Of course, injuries may hurt his value but I still would be happy if the Canucks receive at least a draft pick for Sutter.
As per CapFriendly, Sutter’s contract carries a no-trade clause until July 1st, where it will become a modified no-movement clause, where Sutter will be permitted to submit a list of 15 teams who he will not be traded to. The Canucks need to get rid of Sutter and open up a spot for Gaudette.
Stats courtesy of HockeyReference.com, ESPN.Com and NHL.Com