The Hurricanes will reassign rookie center Brandon Sutter
to the Albany River Rats today, said General Manager Jim Rutherford.
Sutter, who has been a healthy scratch for each of the team’s last four games, will go on a two-week conditioning stint that will not require him to clear waivers. After that period, he will return to the NHL.
“It’s just part of the development process,” said Rutherford. “He hasn’t played much lately, and he’ll get a lot of playing time there.”
Even when in the lineup, the 20-year-old first-round pick in 2007 only cracked the 10 minute mark in ice time twice since November 26. He played a season-low 2:36 on February 15 against Buffalo.
Rutherford said that this conditioning stint had little to do with how Sutter was performing in Carolina, and was instead designed simply to give him some playing time in order to aid his development.
“I like Brandon Sutter a lot,” said Rutherford. “He’s one of our best penalty killers, he’s a very young man and it’s just a matter of his strength and development now as to where he gets to. I would like to think that this playing time in Albany and then playing here down the stretch will put him in a position to be in our top nine next year.”
Despite the team’s high long-term expectations for Sutter, Rutherford did acknowledge that players such as Tim Conboy and Michael Ryan, along with the impending return of Scott Walker, will make it tough for Sutter to break back into the regular forward rotation this season.
“It will depend on how [the conditioning stint] goes and that door may open for him, but I think it will be more difficult for him this year,” said Rutherford. “If he gets his playing time and comes back, continues to kill penalties and maybe gets a little more ice time here, that’s going to help our team.”
Sutter’s reassignment will come at a welcome time for Albany, which is dealing with numerous injuries after last week’s bus crash. Although all five passengers who were hospitalized have now been released, the River Rats still had to call in reinforcements from the ECHL ranks in order to dress the 20 skaters required for tonight’s game at Bridgeport.