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Storylines: Brandon Sutter

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins takes a look at some of the key storylines to keep an eye on during training camp and the upcoming 2012-13 season.

A lot of time has passed since Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the NHL Draft last June from Carolina, and the lengthy wait has made him more anxious than ever to get going with his new team.

“It was a long wait,” Sutter said. “It was a lot longer than I expected, for sure. I’m definitely eager and I’m just looking forward to getting into the first week or two of the season here.”

After months of waiting around for the season to start, Sutter will now be going full speed ahead in terms of adjusting to everything that comes with a trade – new teammates, coaches, facilities and living situation.

Brandon Sutter skates at CONSOL Energy Center

Though it’s an especially unique situation for Sutter, as this was the first career trade for the 23-year-old center, he’s already getting increasingly comfortable in his new surroundings. He got a chance to skate with his Penguins teammates back in September and met with the coaches about the systems and style of play during the summer, which has been a big help for the young forward.

“It’s starting to feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “I think it’s going to take a little bit of time, but everyone’s been welcoming. So far, so good.

“I’m here to play my game. This is a special group in the room. I’m glad to be part of that and hopefully for a long time. We’ll just take it day-by-day, but I’m here to play and I want to win. The guys here have been great helping me out with things. Hopefully, I can feel more and more at home every day.”

The Penguins are expecting a lot from Sutter in his first year with the team, as he should slot in as the third center behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin this season (with his linemates yet to be determined).

“Those are three really good NHL centers,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said after acquiring Sutter in June. “That’s the strength of our team. We’re looking to having Brandon be a big part of that group. It was pretty important to me in terms of building this team to have a young center like that to go with Crosby and Malkin. It makes our team a good team still and in the future moving forward.”

The role Sutter will have with the Penguins as a responsible two-way center that is strong on the penalty kill is one he’s familiar with, one he’s comfortable with and one he likes to play.

  • Sutter is regularly tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s top forwards and is especially strong in his own end- He’s strong on the penalty kill, as he led Hurricanes forwards last season with an average of 2:20 shorthanded minutes per game and ranking fourth (tied) in the NHL with a career-high three shorthanded goals.
  • He can play a gritty game, as he led all Hurricanes forwards with 85 blocked shots last season, and he also ranked second on the team with 61 takeaways.

  • Even with his tough assignments, Sutter's offensive game continues to evolve – and he wants to keep developing it to provide scoring depth. He hit 21 goals his sophomore season, 14 the next and 17 in 2011-12.

  • The young Sutter is a proven leader. His character impressed Carolina so much that after his rookie year, they named one of two Hurricanes alternate captains at just 21 years old the following season.

Though adjusting to a new club is never easy, it looks like Sutter will acclimate well with the Penguins. The hardest part may be breaking in his new Penguins gear.

“The first few drills I was really hurting,” he admitted after skating at CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday. “It’s new. You’ve got new equipment on and you’re on new ice, so it’s kind of an awkward feeling at first. But starting to feel more comfortable.”

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