Jim Benning wasn’t kidding when he called Brandon Sutter a “foundation piece.”
Just days after acquiring Sutter from Pittsburgh in a multi-player trade, the Canucks GM is reportedly close to inking the 26-year-old to a fairly large extension, per Sportsnet:
Work still being done on Sutter extension in VAN, but hearing five years is expected to be the term. AAV sounds like just under $4.4M.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 30, 2015
If accurate, the extension — which would kick in for 2016-17 — will make Sutter one of just two players on the active roster signed until 2020, the other being defenseman Chris Tanev. The estimated cap hit would also make Sutter one of the highest-paid forwards on the team next season, behind the Sedins ($7M each) and Alex Burrows ($4.5M).
Sutter’s two-year, $6.6M deal expires at the end of this season.
Given the reported money and term, it’s pretty clear Benning sees Sutter as the fix to Vancouver’s second-line center problem. Nick Bonino, part of the package sent to Pittsburgh for Sutter, looked over his head at times last year as the No. 2, and the club isn’t keen on rushing promising prospect Bo Horvat into the role.
“Horvat, the last half the year, played really well for us,” Benning said on Tuesday. “We don’t want to put pressure on him to be somewhere in the lineup that he can’t handle it going forward. We want to make sure that he keeps developing as a player.”
Whether Sutter can fill the No. 2 role remains to be seen. He was largely a No. 3 guy throughout his time in Pittsburgh, though some of that had to do with being stuck behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the depth chart.