The Penguins have finished their last order of business for the summer. The whirlwind of offseason personnel changes has closed with the signing of restricted free agent center Brandon Sutter to a two-year contract extension.
“It’s nice to get it done with and over with,” Sutter said. “It’s nice to get signed to a couple years and I’m obviously returning to a team that has a chance to win. I’m exited to be back and glad I can go through the changes that have happened with the coaching staff and new players. I’m just excited to get back (to Pittsburgh) and back to work.”
Sutter, who expects to meet sometime this week with new head coach Mike Johnston and his staff, was pleased to sign a two-year deal with the Penguins, which has an average annual value of $3.3 million.
“We both agreed a two-year deal was best,” said Sutter, who would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency next year. “I wasn’t too sure about a one-year deal. I didn’t want one year. But anything longer than two didn’t make full sense right now. I’m happy to be there two more years. Hopefully, they’re two good years.”
Sutter, 25, is coming off the best postseason performance of his career, setting personal highs in goals (5), points (7) and plus-minus (+7). He also had a career-best four-game scoring streak (2G-2A).
And he hopes he can build off that effort with an expanded role this upcoming season under the team’s new coaching staff.
“I want to continue to become a better player. I hope to have an increased role,” Sutter said. “I think I proved that I can play some significant minutes. I like the changes that have happened with the coaches and forwards. It’s an exciting time.
“I want to be counted on. I don’t want to be looked at as just going out there and killing minutes.”
Next year will be Sutter’s third with the Penguins since being acquired with Brian Dumoulin and a 2012 first-round pick (Derrick Pouliot) from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Jordan Staal on the first day of the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
After two years with the Penguins, Sutter is finally feeling comfortable with the team and wants to take his game and leadership abilities to an even higher level next year.
“Parts of the last two years I felt there were areas that I could have been better and I’m sure a new player feels that way,” Sutter said. “I just want to feel like I’m a part of the leadership group of the team and try to move forward, and get that goal of making it further in the playoffs and ultimately winning the Cup.”