June 01, 2012 8:35 AM
The Carolina Hurricanes have crossed two more players off their free agent list.
On Friday, the team announced new contracts for defenseman Justin Krueger and center Brody Sutter, both of whom spent time with the Checkers last season. Krueger, who was set to become a restricted free agent, agreed to a new one-year deal, while Sutter, an unsigned draft choice, signed a three-year, entry-level deal.
Should he not earn a spot on what’s shaping up to be a battle for depth roles at the NHL level, Krueger, the Canes’ seventh-round pick in 2006, would return to Charlotte to build on a campaign that saw him lead the team with a plus-16 rating while emerging as a top shut-down option in the second half.
Though he was technically a rookie last season, Krueger, 25, is the oldest player from last season’s roster that is currently under contract for next season. Only Chris Durno, Mathieu Roy and Justin Peters had him beat in his first pro season in North America, which could potentially make him one of the team’s more experienced options moving forward. He also added to his international resume since the conclusion of the AHL season, having represented Germany at the IIHF World Championship for the third consecutive year.
From last seasons’ defense, Krueger (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) joins Brett Bellemore, Michal Jordan, Rasmus Rissanen, Bobby Sanguinetti and Joe Sova as players under contract, with Brian Dumoulin, Austin Levi and Beau Schmitz all candidates to begin their first professional seasons in Charlotte. Roy remains an unrestricted free agent.
Sutter, 20, will start his first full professional campaign next season. The 6-foot-5, 203-pound center scored one goal in his first four AHL games after joining the Checkers on an amateur tryout contract at the conclusion of his junior season in March.
Drafted by Carolina in his second year of eligibility (seventh round, 193rd overall in 2010), Sutter increased his offensive totals in each of his last two seasons with WHL Lethbridge, culminating in his recent 30 goal, 30 assist campaign while serving as team captain.
Sutter’s signing gives the Checkers even more depth at center, with Zac Dalpe, Riley Nash, Sean Dolan and A.J. Jenks all under contract for next season and prospect Victor Rask potentially on the way. Though most comfortable in the middle, Sutter did play on the wing in his AHL debut on April 3.
Sutter becomes the third member of his family to sign a contract with the Carolina organization, joining cousins Brandon and Brett. Brett Sutter, who captained the Checkers this past season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent unless the Hurricanes re-sign him prior to July 1.
A full breakdown of the Checkers’ contract situation can be found here.