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Brody Sutter Looks to Take Next Step in Year Three

Brody Sutter Charlotte Checkers
Having seen his role gradually increase over time, Brody Sutter is hoping that trend will continue in year three.

A member of a relatively small group of entry-level players still under contract next season, the 22-year-old center played the entire season (69 games) at the AHL level for the first time in 2013-14, chipping in 28 points along with his solid defensive play. Though he’s developed a knack for contributing at opportune times – after leading the Checkers in playoff scoring last spring, three of his eight goals were game winners, and another was to tie a game in the last minute – he’ll now be looking to do so with more regularity.

“He’s established himself as a solid AHL player,” said coach Jeff Daniels. “Now he has to become an impact player to get to the next level.”

Brody Sutter

Season Highlights

  • Played a career-high 69 games and set new career highs in goals (8), assists (20) and points (28)
  • Tied for fourth on the team with three game-winning goals
  • Scored on two of the first four shootout attempts of his career, including one game winner
  • Scored 13 points (5g, 8a) in 19 career games against divison rival Oklahoma City
It’s a process that started with the Carolina Hurricanes choosing Sutter in the seventh round of the 2011 draft – his second year of eligibility. After earning his first pro contract with a late-season debut with Charlotte the following spring, he began the lockout season in the ECHL before breaking out with five points in his first five playoff games as a professional with the Checkers in 2013.

In his first opportunity to build on that postseason splash, Sutter was satisfied with the outcome.

“I’m happy with where I’m at,” he said. “With this being my second year pro I got a bigger role, and I feel like I know what type of player I have to be at this level and the next level.

“Hopefully I can take another big step next year and get myself in the picture to start getting some games up top.”

As was the case one year ago, Sutter and Victor Rask project as the Checkers’ top two centers when limiting the options to those already under contract. The Hurricanes’ decision to send cousin Brett Sutter to Charlotte last November put Brody in a more familiar depth role that he’d filled in the past and is likely best suited for at the NHL level, even if points do start to pile up in Charlotte.

That’s one of the ways in which Brody and Brett, the latter of whom is the Checkers’ captain, top-line center and a pending free agent, are similar.

“I definitely look up to Brett,” said Brody. “We’re not going to be high scorers - we’ve got to work hard and bring energy. We definitely know what role to play, and I try to emulate him a lot.”

Most of Brett Sutter’s 54 NHL games, including all 36 in Carolina, came in a fourth-line role. Brody would at least start in that position, with his size (6-foot-5, 203 pounds) and defensive awareness seeming to make him a good fit. In the near future, he’d have a chance of replacing Manny Malhotra, briefly a mentor while the two were teammates in Charlotte, in the event that the veteran free agent moves on this summer. If the Hurricanes ever needed to recall a player in that role, Sutter would perhaps be a better fit than the more skilled Rask.

It’s entirely possible that the Checkers’ depth at center will have a different look once the season starts, whether that’s from the Hurricanes re-signing free agents (Brett Sutter, Sean Dolan, Greg Nemisz), fellow returnees making the full-time move to the position (Brendan Woods) or the addition of new faces via free agency and the draft. If Sutter does end up having more of an offensive role, it won’t be one he shies away from as he begins his preparations this summer.

“I feel like I can put some weight on my body and get stronger, and I need to add another step speed-wise,” he said. “I feel like once I do that I’ll be a lot better player at this level and hopefully the next level.”
Paul Branecky
Author: Paul BraneckyEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.