With the way Eric Staal has become the face of the Carolina Hurricanes and his teammate Jeff Skinner is the new fresh face of the NHL, it’d be easy to forget that there’s other talented youth in Raleigh making things happen there. Luckily for restricted free agent Brandon Sutter, Canes GM Jim Rutherford keeps him well in mind as well.
The Hurricanes re-signed Sutter to a three-year, $6.2 million contract good for a $2.067 salary cap hit over that time. Over the past two seasons, Sutter’s career has blossomed in a big way. Two seasons ago he had a career year scoring 21 goals and finishing the year with 40 points. Last season, a lot of faith was put upon Sutter’s shoulders as he was named an alternate captain of the team and had a slight let down finishing the year with 14 goals and 29 points.
With all that, Rutherford says that Sutter’s importance to the team is huge.
“Brandon is one of the cornerstones of our franchise moving forward,” said Carolina president and general manager Jim Rutherford. “He is an extremely intelligent player who can perform in all situations, and has already grown into a leadership position for the Hurricanes at a very young age.”
With the likes of Staal, Skinner, and Sutter the Hurricanes are in a great place as Staal and goalie Cam Ward are the old men of the bunch at 26 years-old. With Skinner at 18 and Sutter at 22 that youthful corps of players are going to have a lot of time to grow together. If they can get some help along the wings and get a little deeper still, this is a team that could be a real headache to deal with in the Eastern Conference for years.
As it is, they’ll need to see Sutter’s offensive numbers take a jump back up again next season. What he brought to the ice two years ago was outstanding goal-wise but the arrival of Skinner relieved some of the pressure on him to pour it on offensively. Getting back to being a 20-goal guy with the ability to feed his linemates will make Carolina a much more electric team to watch. With Tomas Kaberle there to anchor the power play as well, perhaps the Hurricanes can stop teasing about making the playoffs and finally get over the hump.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
—Martin Jones is a calming presence in the Sharks’ net. (Sports Illustrated)
–The Rangers should go after Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. (The Hockey News)
–Some people have pretty wild hockey tattoos. (BarDown)
–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)
–A great piece on how Bruce Boudreau impacted the Ducks and Capitals. (Sportsnet)
–It should be an interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks. (Daily Breeze)
—Adam Henrique is a funny guy. He took to Twitter to try and get himself on the cover of NHL 17:
Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.
(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)
You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.
Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.
Letang told his side of the story:
The Capitals disagree:
While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:
No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.
If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.
The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)
Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.
A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.
First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.
Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.
Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.
In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.
This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.
It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.
(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)
There are a few things we do know already.
For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.
Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.
In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.
There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.