Position: Right Wing
Weight: 203 lbs.
Drafted: 7th Round, 2011
Last Year's Ranking: 18
One of two remaining Sutters in the Hurricanes organization, Brody is slowly beginning to make a name for himself with Carolina fans and his size is a big reason for that. Being 6'5" and 203 lbs. at only 21 years of age will definitely make you stand out and this was the case last week at the Hurricanes development camp, as Sutter looked like a mammoth compared to some of the team's other prospects. Size is something that can't be taught and it can play the difference in a player getting drafted, but it doesn't always guarantee NHL success or a career at all. Unless you are an enforcer or someone who racks up a lot of penalty minutes, you have to be a scorer or a good defensive player to make it in the NHL as a big player. Does Brody Sutter fit any of these categories?
Right now, it's tough to tell because he has two good offensive seasons to his repertoire and both of them came while he was playing in junior hockey as a 19 & 20 year old. He doesn't have too flashy of a skillset and scores most of his goals by going to the net and banging away for rebounds.That kind of strategy works for a lot of players and could lead to him being a solid bottom-six player sometime in the near future, but he also needs to play a solid game away from the puck to make it to the NHL. Having watched very little of him, I don't know much about Sutter's defensive game so I'll just have to wait and see how he develops there.
If he play on the PK and avoid getting lit up at even strength, then the Canes might give him a shot at the fourth line center spot within the next few years. The Hurricanes are typically high on players who come from a prestigious hockey background and Sutter also provides a lot of what the team is looking for right now. He's big, can skate well for a guy his size and is considered a tough guy to play against by those who have watched him. Brody would actually be a great fit for the team right now, but barring an injury, he will probably spend a year or two in Charlotte before getting a call-up. Around this time last year, one would think that Sutter would be close to getting a shot in the NHL, but his development may have taken a step back.
Last year, I had Brody ranked at #18 and expected him to spend most of the year in the AHL. He started the season in the ECHL and it wasn't really his fault. The NHL work stoppage caused Charlotte's roster to be over-populated and he was going to struggle to get playing time with so many players in the mix. Therefore, it made sense to send him to Florida where he would get better minutes. Sutter being in the ECHL isn't a knock on him. However, I expected him to dominate at that level and he appeared to struggle with only eight goals and 16 points in 33 games.
Not that I expected Sutter to be an offensive force, since he only produced a lot of points in junior as an overage player, but I thought he would thrive in the ECHL like Justin Shugg did. His numbers in the AHL weren't great either (23-3-5), so it may take Sutter some time to get adjusted to the professional game, despite him being strong enough to play against guys who are older than him. Sutter had a terrific playoffs, though and was arugably the Checkers best player in their five-game series against Oklahoma City, scoring two goals and five points. I considered bumping him off the list, but his playoff performance was enough for me to keep him in the Top 25.
All in all, this was definitely a year of adjustment for Sutter, as he went back and forth with two clubs and it usually takes time for players to fit in with a new environment. Starting the year in Florida wasn't ideal for him and switching teams in the middle of the season probably wasn't easy on him either, but right now, Brody is still all potential and not much more. His strong showing in the playoffs was encouraging, but that was only five games and we'll have to see how he does in a full AHL season. He's likely going to spend most of the season there, so he will get plenty of chances to succeed and we'll have to see how things go from there.
After the jump, we'll look at Sutter's progress and NHL potential.
Drafted as an overage player, Sutter has only been able to score when he played against younger competition, which makes me believe that he won't be a very effective offensive player at the professional level. His size and willingness to go to the dirty areas to score makes him an intriguing option for the bottom-six, though. Whether ot not he can get consistent ice time and be able to carry the play against other professionals will likely determine how his career goes from here. You don't have to be a scorer to make it in the NHL, but being able to contribute in other areas becomes twice as important if you aren't producing much offense. Sutter definitely has the qualities to be an effective player in all three zones, it's now just a matter of whether or not he can do it at the professional level.
Sutter's comparables are wingers who were drafted out of the WHL after their 19th birthday (or were overagers by definition), spent at least 3-4 seasons in juniors with a scoring rate of around .5-6 points per game and played in either the AHL, ECHL or IHL a year or two after being drafted. There are a lot of teams who don't use draft picks on overagers unless they have one outstanding quality, but it's not impossible to make it in the NHL if you were are drafted as one. Likewise, it's also possible to get a chance at the NHL even with mediocre scoring numbers but teams are more likely to call-up big players or "tough guys" over anyone else. At least that's the trend I noticed while doing this analysis. Brody has the size part going for him, so I think he'll get a chance somewhere down the line, although the odds of that could increase if he lights up the AHL next season.
Overall, Sutter looks like a solid career AHL-er with a fourth line NHL player being his ceiling. The Hurricanes only spent a seventh round pick on him, so they would probably be fine with the latter.