Sut­ter goes to Canucks

Pen­guins trade cen­tre for Bonino, Clen­den­ning and draft pick

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY WILL GRAVES

Pittsburgh Pen­guins gen­eral man­ager Jim Rutherford ranks ver­sa­tile cen­tre Bran­don Sut­ter among of his favourite play­ers. One Rutherford has now traded twice.

The Pen­guins sent the 26-yearold Sut­ter to the Van­cou­ver Canucks on Tues­day in ex­change for for­ward Nick Bonino and de­fence­man Alex Clen­den­ing. The teams also swapped 2016 draft picks, with Pittsburgh get­ting Van­cou­ver’s sec­ond-round se­lec­tion and the Canucks re­ceiv­ing a third-round choice from the Pen­guins. Pittsburgh also signed vet­eran for­ward Eric Fehr to a three-year deal in a pair of moves that give the Pen­guins needed for­ward depth, par­tic­u­larly along the bot­tom two lines.

Rutherford said the two moves “went hand in hand” as Pittsburgh re­tools around stars Sid­ney Crosby and Ev­geni Malkin. The Pen­guins ac­quired Phil Kes­sel from Toronto ear­lier this month to give Crosby or Malkin a high-pro­file and dy­namic run- ning mate. Ship­ping Sut­ter west in ex­change for the less-ex­pen­sive Bonino while also adding Fehr gives coach Mike John­ston more flex­i­bil­ity as the team tries to rally af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing first-round play­off exit.

“The nice thing is we’ll have a com­pet­i­tive camp,” Rutherford said. “It’s not like guys are au­to­mat­i­cally put on the top six or the top nine. We have enough good play­ers now.”

Sut­ter was among that group for the past three sea­sons af­ter Rutherford — then the gen­eral man­ager in Carolina — sent Sut­ter to Pittsburgh for Jor­dan Staal. A tal­ented two-way player, Sut­ter is an ef­fec­tive penalty killer with an oc­ca­sional scor­ing touch. He tied a ca­reer high with 21 goals in 2014-15 but was also en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his con­tract and likely due a sig­nif­i­cant raise next sum­mer. With a large por­tion of the salary cap eaten up by its star-laden core, Pittsburgh opted to move Sut­ter — who has a cap hit of $3.3 mil­lion in 2015-16 — while it could still get some value from him.

A pop­u­lar fig­ure in the dress­ing room, Sut­ter was a steady­ing pres­ence. He’ll get a chance to do it now in Van­cou­ver, which hasn’t won a play­off se­ries since reach­ing the 2011 Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals.

AP PHOTO

Pittsburgh Pen­guins’ Bran­don Sut­ter skates with the puck past Dal­las Stars’ Shawn Hor­coff dur­ing an NHL game Thurs­day, March 19, in Dal­las.

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