EXTENSION CANDIDATE: BRANDON SUTTER
How high do the Penguins view third line center Brandon Sutter? High enough that the team see’s Sutter as a young core player that they want to lock up for several seasons into his UFA years.
Sutter, 24, has one year left on his contract and carries a $2,066,667 cap hit on his current contract. Sutter, though, will make $2.7 million next season. He’s a restricted free agent next summer and here’s the kicker, the 2014-2015 season will be Sutter’s seventh accrued NHL season, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2015.
The Penguins have $53,625,000 committed to just 12 players for the 2014-2015 season. The salary cap is expected to rise to the $68-$70 million range in 2014-2015.
Sources told Inside Pittsburgh Sports this week that the Penguins brass intend to make Sutter a priority to lockup long-term, with talks possibly starting prior to the season, though a deal could take some time.
There’s some interest from the Penguins in trying to get Sutter done in the coming months so then the Penguins can make a more clear decision on what direction to take with defenseman Brooks Orpik, a free agent at seasons end.
Tying up both Sutter and Orpik could cost the Penguins around $8 million against the cap for 2014-2015.
One source said the Penguins are likely to approach Sutter about a multi-year deal in the 4-5 year range but just two seasons away from unrestricted free agency, the Penguins are unsure that Sutter is interested in a deal that will wipe out several of his UFA years. At the end of the day, will Sutter feel he could be a top-2 line center elsewhere and seek more offensive opportunities?
That’s what the Penguins want to find out, though I hear they believe he is very happy here.
Sutter is repped by Newport Sports and Sutter is expected to seek at least $4 million per season on a new deal is the word I’m getting.
The Penguins feel Sutter has the makings of evolving into one of the best two-way centermen in the game.