Benning calls Sutter a ‘foundation piece’ for Canucks

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The Vancouver Canucks have big plans for Brandon Sutter.

“Acquiring Brandon Sutter, to me he’s a foundation piece for our group going forward,” GM Jim Benning said today after sending Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh in a trade.

“He can play a good two-way game. He brings us speed. He goes to the net hard. I thought in the playoffs for Pittsburgh last year, he was really good. He’s a playoff player. When the games mean something, that’s when he’s at his best.”

Benning hopes to work with Sutter’s agent over the next few days to get a contract extension hammered out. The 26-year-old center is a pending unrestricted free agent.

The addition of Sutter, who figures to slot in below Henrik Sedin as Vancouver’s second-line center, will also give 20-year-old Bo Horvat more time to develop.

“Bo Horvat, the last half the year, played really well for us,” said Benning. “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.

“Brandon’s a proven NHL player, match-up player. He’s played against the other teams’ top players and shut them down. And he can still bring offense to our team.”

Related: Hamhuis, Vrbata will not sign extensions this summer