Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

Trade Market/Immodest Proposals: Foundational Centre Edition

This week, we’re mashing things up at CanucksArmy with a Trade Market/Immodest Proposals two-in-one special. The dueling columns are combining forces with a specific purpose in mind—trading Brandon Sutter.

Using a blend of both column’s formats, we’ll be exploring the question of which—if any—teams would be interested in trading for Sutter, and what the Vancouver Canucks might have to do in order to move him.

The Concept

Other than perhaps Loui Eriksson and Tim Schaller, no player’s departure is a higher priority for most fans than Brandon Sutter. However, with a $4.375 million cap hit for two seasons after this one—and a whopping six points on the year—the question becomes less about if the Canucks should trade Sutter and more about if they’ll be able to.

Vancouver could afford to retain some salary—perhaps up to 25%—on Sutter in order to move him, but such retention should be compensated with a mid-round pick or something equivalent. By retaining a quarter of his salary, the Canucks would bring Sutter’s cap hit down to just over $3 million—and at that price, he should be worth a third-round pick at the very least.

Vancouver Trades Brandon Sutter With 25% Retention For A Third Round Pick In 2019


The Rationale

With the uptick in Adam Gaudette’s play post-Trade Deadline, it’s arguable that Brandon Sutter has already lost his position in the lineup. The centre depth seems set-in-stone with Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Gaudette down the middle—not to mention Jay Beagle locked in as the prototypical fourth-liner.

Sutter’s role on the team becomes even more redundant if the 2019 Draft Lottery is kind enough to hand Vancouver a top pick. Being redundant at $4.375 million isn’t a positive—especially when the Canucks have so many holes in other areas of the roster.

All this is to say nothing of Sutter’s current level of performance. Though he’s struggled with multiple injuries in 2018/19, he’s also put up miserable numbers whenever he has been in the lineup. Sutter’s play is trending down, and it’s time for the Canucks to move on before he becomes impossible to move—if he isn’t already.

Deciding to trade Brandon Sutter is an easy decision. Determining whether or not it’s worth retaining salary to do so is the real question Jim Benning will need to answer.

Testing The Market

In this section, we’ll highlight some of the teams that might be convinced to acquire Brandon Sutter. Specifically, we’re looking for rosters that are light on bottom-six centre depth and heavy on cap space. Potential trade partners should also be firmly within a competitive window—otherwise, they’d probably have little use for the 30-year-old Sutter no matter how much mentorship he provides.

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We’ll also include some classic Immodest Proposals-style Twitter polls, asking readers to chime in on which teams they think would be interested in Brandon Sutter.

Arizona Coyotes

Centre Depth
Derek Stepan
Nick Schmaltz (RFA)
Brad Richardson
Christian Dvorak
Nick Cousins

2019 Offseason Cap Space: $20.5 million

Notable Centre Prospects: Barrett Hayton, Tyler Steenbergen

Why Them?: The Coyotes will have plenty of cap space to play with this offseason—once Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa hit IR, that is—and their centre depth is rather abysmal after the unfortunate decision to deal Dylan Strome. Brandon Sutter could offer this young roster some stability while it continues to make a concerted push for a playoff appearance.

With few centres on the open market in 2019, a franchise like Arizona might need to compromise with a budget option—and Sutter could be that budget option!

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Buffalo Sabres

Centre Depth
Jack Eichel
Casey Mittelstadt
Johan Larsson (RFA)
Vladimir Sobotka
Danny O’Regan (UFA)

2019 Offseason Cap Space: $24.1 million

Notable Centre Prospects: Rasmus Asplund, Sean Malone

Why Them?: The Sabres are ready and willing to become serious playoff contenders, but their team remains void of meaningful experience. Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt make for a bounty of skill down the middle, but the Sabres’ veteran experience at centre is nil.

Buffalo really seems to be missing Ryan O’Reilly, and Brandon Sutter could resemble a discount O’Reilly replacement if one squints hard enough. With Matt Moulson coming off the books this offseason, there will be money available for an acquisition or two up front—even if the Sabres decide to shell out for Jeff Skinner.


Colorado Avalanche

Centre Depth
Nathan MacKinnon
Carl Soderberg
Derick Brassard (UFA)
Sheldon Dries
Dominic Toninato

2019 Offseason Cap Space: $33.5 million 

Notable Centre Prospects: Shane Bowers, Vladislav Kamenev

Why Them?: The Avalanche are a top-heavy franchise, and that’s especially true for their forward corps. They’re not going to contend without more depth up front, and especially down the middle—where they’re even thinner if Derick Brassard leaves as a UFA.

With boatloads of cap space, Colorado should be looking to make some big changes to their roster after a somewhat disappointing 2018/19 season. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen need some sort of support—and Brandon Sutter has at least demonstrated the ability to eat minutes at the NHL level.


Montreal Canadiens

Centre Depth
Max Domi
Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Philip Danault
Nate Thompson (UFA)
Jordan Weal (UFA)

2019 Offseason Cap Space: $16.1 million

Notable Centre Prospects: Ryan Poehling, Daniel Audette

Why Them?: The Habs seem committed to contention with Carey Price and Shea Weber on the books, but they don’t have any similar pieces up front. Centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi is the closest thing in the Montreal organization to a star forward, but he’s not supported by much in the way of depth.

Marc Bergevin seems like the kind of GM who would value the “intangible” qualities that Brandon Sutter is said to bring to a roster. Montreal has a few open spots down the middle heading into 2019/20 and no obvious candidates to step in immediately.


New York Islanders                                     

Centre Depth
Mathew Barzal
Brock Nelson (UFA)
Valtteri Filppula (UFA)
Casey Cizikas
Tanner Fritz

2019 Offseason Cap Space: $31.7 million

Notable Centre Prospects: None

Why Them?: The Islanders are already thin at centre, and that could be even more of an issue if Brock Nelson and Valtteri Filppula leave via free agency.

GM Lou Lamoriello is known for his “old school” approach and that could lead to him valuing the sort of outdated game Brandon Sutter is known for playing. Someone needs to back up Mat Barzal, and Sutter is a viable compromise candidate for this pseudo-contender.

  • Killer Marmot

    Sutter had an awesome 2017-2018 season, where he was one of the best shut-down centres in the league. Reportedly there was a lot of interest in Sutter by other clubs last summer.

    This suggests that the Canucks might get a better return than we expect. And if the Canucks can not get a good return, hold onto him for next season. He might surprize.

    • Goon

      He might just be old and broken, though. This was the argument people have been using for a couple of years straight for hanging on to Tanev, and Tanev just keeps getting older and more broken. Sutter’s had a single healthy season in Vancouver (and two of his four seasons he’s failed to even cross the 30 game mark), and the Canucks have better options for the 3rd-line centre spot. Move him for any return at all, if possible.

    • Fred-65

      I like to watch player employment tosee how the coach see’s a player. Things like the last minute of a period, trying to hold a late lead, face off’s or PK. On this basis Green places more value in Sutter than the average fan does. I suspect other GM’s will hold the same view. But it strikes me that Gaudette is looking like a future replacement but needs more experience. So yes I can see the opportunity to move the player and maybe the right team would be willing to take Sutter for the next 2 years

  • Defenceman Factory

    One of Sutter’s strongest attributes is his penalty killing. Are there teams needing to upgrade their PK that might also be interested in Sutter?

  • Dirty30

    If Benning can get ‘future considerations’ for Sutter, he would be advised not to do a happy dance in front of the GM he just fleeced.

    If he is forced to retain salary to make a deal, then ask for a decent pick in compensation. And then take the happy dance outside.

    The other question not addressed is what’s the cutoff for a compliance buyout for Sutter? Is it worth considering just to move him?

    And if he is spending so much time on LTIR, at what point does management grow a pair and have Sutter ‘retire’ that way? It may be a similar conversation to have with Tanev. Are these guys only going to play 20 games a season each and force this team to keep patching holes in the roster instead of being able to look for permanent replacements?

    • Goon

      Sutter’s contract would be up before a compliance buyout would be an option. Compliance buyouts typically are only available to teams after a new CBA comes into effect (so that they can be compliant with the new CBA, hence the name).

      As for a regular buyout, it would cut Sutter’s cap hit in half for the next two seasons, and then there’d be a $1.6 million hit for two seasons after that. If they buy him out next year, it’ll be $2.05 million and then $1.6 million the following season. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense for the Canucks, at least this year. They’re not hurting for cap space right now and probably don’t want Sutter on the books a few seasons down the road when they might be a cap team again.

    • Goon

      Regarding forced LTIR-retirement, if these guys had four or five years left on their deals, that might make sense. Tanev’s only got one season left on his contract, and Sutter has two. Hard to imagine any GM, let alone Benning, doing that to them.

      The only example of this kind of “forced LTIR” retirement I can think of is Joffrey Lupul, and he had three years left at $5.25 million per (when the cap was significantly lower) when the Leafs shut him down.

  • Bud Poile

    17:28 TOI
    48.5% F/O
    .23 PPG
    PK specialist:
    21% of all F/O taken on the PK
    44.5% F/O in defensive zone
    Coming off injury,his worst year as a Canuck.
    41.1% FO
    10:32 TOI
    .255 PPG
    1 SH F/O in 47 GP

    Gaudette has no defensive game and has a miniscule better points per game average over Sutter
    Unless a fair trade deal surfaces play Sutter next season until one comes along.

      • Bud Poile

        The coach does not play Gaudette in a shutdown role,which is a significantly vital role in the game.
        Failure to grasp hockey basics offers little to nothing but whining disinformation.

        • Goon

          The coach does not play Sutter at all, as he is injured. When he has been healthy, he’s been a massive liability to the team. He’s been on the ice for 10 even strength goals for and 22 against at even strength, for a -12 differential (that’s -38 prorated for a full season). He’s hemorrhaged shots and chances against – the Canucks give up nearly twice as many shot attempts against than they take themselves with Sutter on the ice. He’s lost more faceoffs than he’s won. He’s been *bad*.

          • Bud Poile

            Might have something to do with Sutter being on the ice short handed.
            Gaudette takes 6.4 F/O per game whereas Sutter took 17.8 F/O per game.
            Amongst the top five centers,Gaudette has the worst F/O% on the team and is relied upon the least for defensive zone F/O’s.
            Without any significantly better offensive production from Gaudette it would be utterly foolish to dump Sutter for nothing and retain salary,to boot.

          • DogBreath

            I don’t begrudge a player from unflattering stats when he’s often supposed to shutdown MacKinnon, McDavid etc. There’s a reason these guys are the best players on the planet (and Sutter isn’t). Expecting positive stats In these types of matchups is wishful thinking.

        • Erik Lonnrot

          Gaudette is also going to get better, Sutter is not. That being said I think I like Sutter more than Goon does. I think he’s a good penalty killer which isn’t nothing but he’s also injury prone and not very good 5-on-5. Unless there’s some good evidence to suggest that Sutter is going to bounce back next year and fetch a better return at the TLD, it’s probably time to move him.

          • TheRealPB

            The question is whether you need two shutdown centers who provide no offense. If you already have Beagle, why do you need Sutter? I don’t dislike Sutter, but at this point the 3C position is better spent on a player with serious upside (like Gaudette who looks stronger by the game) than Sutter whose career is clearly on the wane. I also don’t know why the injury bug has bitten him here — he missed just a handful of games in Carolina and then Pittsburgh but can’t stay healthy here.

    • bobdaley44

      Totally agree. Green played Gaudette 11 minutes last night on an injury plagued team. Sutter’s going nowhere unless something good comes back. Canucks don’t have the depth yet to move on from Sutter. Not sure why all the hate for him. He’s not an offensive playmaker but he’s got size, can skate, wins draws, has a decent shot and plays responsible D. Guess Guddy’s gone so now it’s Sutter’s turn.

  • Locust

    Geez … another trade Sutter article ….. whats it been, a week…?
    As time goes on I am truly believing some people here wouldn’t know which end of a hockey stick to hold.
    Sutter is injury prone and overpaid – so what, it has been mentioned a thousand times here, get over it.
    When he plays he is one of the best in the league as a defensive centre and penalty killer.
    Goldy will probably never miss a game due to injury, he doesnt play hard enough to get hurt. Sutter does. But Goldy can do no wrong…..
    Too many of you grew up in the age of participation medals – and it shows.

    • Erik Lonnrot

      I think Sutter gets shortchanged too but come on “one of the best defensive centres in the league” is really a stretch. He’s a very good penalty killer, but there was only one year (14-15) where I think a case could be made that he was even in the top 20 defensive centres.

      • Bud Poile

        Sutter 6th most SH F/O wins in the NHL.
        Beagle #1. Bo #31.Gaudette with no SH F/O’s.
        Sutter #8 in the NHL
        Beagle #2.Bo #24. Gaudette with no SH F/O’s.

        Sutter with sixth most d-zone F/O’s in the NHL.
        Beagle #3. Bo #22.

        Sutter with the 8th most defensive zone F/0’s in the NHL.
        Beagle #11. Bo #15.

        • TheRealPB

          Bud, I don’t know why you have to make the case for Sutter by running down Gaudette. It’s like all the time you trashed Markstrom. Sutter is an ok player, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and has been supremely underwhelming in his time here. You have a rebuilding team — if Beagle is going to anchor a defensive fourth line that is primarily checking with Eriksson and Motte, Horvat is your two-way C with (hopefully) Virtanen and Baertschi on his wings, and the Pettersson-Boeser-Leivo line is your main scoring line, then what makes the most sense for the 3rd line? Sutter does not drive offense. It makes the most sense to have a 3rd line that is a sheltered scoring line comprised of young players. None of the other young kids are ready to make the jump but I would MUCH rather see Gaudette with Roussel and Goldobin than Sutter in the middle with anyone. He is not creative and having a second checking line makes no sense.

          • Bud Poile

            RealPB, there is little comparative arguement between Sutter and Gaudette -it’s an apples and oranges argument.
            I provided the statistical basis of that for Stephan.
            The scuttlebutt was the Beagle acquisition allowed the team to trade Sutter and the transition from two-line defense to an offensive third line that could be facilitated with Gaudette’s ascension.
            This is all old news going back a year now.
            Re:The Rationale
            “With the uptick in Adam Gaudette’s play post-Trade Deadline, it’s arguable that Brandon Sutter has already lost his position in the lineup.” Roget

        • Erik Lonnrot

          Those are interesting, but they don’t do anything like prove that he’s one of the best shut down centres in the league. I already posited that he’s a very good penalty killer so those SH stats aren’t really saying anything. The fact that he’s a deployed like a shut down centre doesn’t prove that he’s one of the best at it.

      • Killer Marmot

        Last season. Sutter took about a zillion faceoffs in the defensive zone (allowing Sedins to play protected minutes), was regularly matched up against the best lines in the NHL, did a ton of penalty killing, and ended up with plus/minus of +8.

  • Rodeobill

    The value of Sutter is what minutes he does eat. At his best (and this is the gamble for the buying team) he stymies the best offense of the other team and frees offensive zone time for the top line on his. He isn’t an old man yet, and with these few months should be able to recover. He SHOULD be worth more than a mid rounder with retained salary, well, here’s hoping.

    • TheRealPB

      This is true in theory. But in reality he’s done little to actually protect those young players — that was the Sedins and the vets who actually came to play (Vrbata, Miller, Vanek, Tanev, Edler). My problem with the ones who haven’t (Sutter, Gudbranson) is that they don’t actually deliver on this promise of protecting the young players. This season the players that the Canucks have leaned on most heavily beyond a mostly unprotected EP and Boeser have been Horvat, Markstrom, Edler and Tanev. Objectively, Sutter has delivered very little this year even when he has been in the lineup.

      • Bud Poile

        Defensive zone/PK coverage from Beagle and Sutter would allow Bo and Elias to manufacture offensive production.
        That was one of the reasons why they brought Beagle in.
        Sutter has proven himself to be invaluable defensively in the time he has been a Canuck, as the stats demonstrate.

        • canuckfan

          Unless the Canucks get a good return there is no reason to trade Sutter, in fact I hope they keep him. Nothing wrong with having a good shutdown line Sutter/Beagle/Eriksson and then have the other three lines provide offense. With a line like this the team would also have these proven penalty killers to draw upon. We need a good shutdown line that can play minutes as well as kill penalties. Canucks need more goals so no need for two shutdown lines. The goalie situation looks good just need depth. Defense needs some changes and style of play may have to be changed. If Hughes is going to drive offense then we will need a game plan to allow the defense to drive play from clearing the puck, either through carrying the puck out or making the pass to move the puck out of their end.
          One play that really needs to be removed from the Canucks playbook is the backwards pass they are way too predictable whether on the power play or just 5 on 5.

          • KGR

            Unlike many, I have no problem with Sutter. Don’t mind the contract either. What I will say is Sutter’s position on the team is becoming redundant ( as Stephan says). If there is a good offer this summer then it is time to move him. I expect that on a good team in the same role he will excel. Bonino (IMO) is not the quality player that Sutter is. He had one good playoff year and little since then. Next up on the Army hit list will be Eriksson.

      • Rodeobill

        Definitely true now, but I was thinking of those days when Dorsett was still playing and that had that good shut down run, question is, can he ever get back to that?

  • DogBreath

    I value all the different pieces that Sutter brings to the team, despite what the fancy stats say. His value tends not to be well captured in the analytics models. That said, it’s clear that the players the canucks rely on for their success are unable to stay healthy with any consistency and their seasom’s are undone by injuries to these players. For that reason it may be time to move on from two of Edler, Sutter and Tanev. Given Gaudette emergence, there’s a strong case to move on. Try to package a combination of Tanev, Virtanen, Goldobin and /or prospect to shore up the right side of the D.

  • TheRealRusty

    Sutter can still play a useful role for the organization since we have nobody else ready to jump in when (not if) injuries start taking its toil during the marathon that is the NHL season (unless we are planning on using Gaunce). At this point, unless we can get an asset for him, it would be wiser to retain his services to ensure proper depth in the center position. I would be more inclined to make moving Eriksson a priority in the off season and play Sutter on the wing until needed in the center.

    • Dirty30

      Actually you can get almost the same defensive ability and lack of scoring from a younger and cheaper Gaunce.

      I’d then take Sutter’s salary plus and try to sign Panarin. That would make a bigger improvement on this team than anything Sutter could ever offer.

      • Locust

        Gaunce gets walked around like a telephone pole in the middle of the sidewalk. Saying he could replace Sutter is ridiculous. Maybe in a few years but not now, C’mon man…..

  • Billy Pilgrim

    If you can’t get a 2nd rounder for Sutter, then keep him. He has had some success on the wing, so you can still keep Gaudette at 3C. It gives you cover at Centre (who else is there?) and you gamble that Sutter rebounds and can get more at the deadline. Put Sutter on his wing. Keep him for PK. Ditch less valuable pieces like Granlund, Schaller or Motte for whatever you can get.

    Now if the goal is to clear cap space so you can sign Karlsson, then drop him for a bag of pucks with no salary retention. Not sure there is another free agent worth the effort, though. Ditching him for a mid-round pick (particularly with salary retention) is bad asset management, in my humble opinion, unless you have a need for the cap space now.

  • Dan the Fan

    LOL Markstrom has more assists than Sutter. Even Spooner has more and he’s only played 6 games.

    Trade him for any pick.

    I don’t really care if Gaudette can’t fill his shoes…. this team is nowhere near competing and needs many more high picks. They need picks far more then they need two shutdown centres.

    • pheenster01

      Remember when the plugs here were raving about Sutter for x2 Cup winner Bonino, Clendenning and a second rounder. Now they want to retain salary just to give Sutter away!

      Remember when the plugs here were raving about Hansen and Burrows (who kindly waived) for Dahlen and Goldobin. I do.

      Just brutal asset management.

        • pheenster01

          Missing the point… at the time we could’ve got way better for these two all time Canuck warriors.

          Dahlen left under a cloud. Karlsson is a tweener who will likely never make an impact in the NHL. Palmu has gone back home pi$$ed off and Goldobin is Green’s press box favourite. Take off the blinkers PB, you are as bad as the clown Bud (well, almost).

          NOT good enough for Hansen and Burrows champ.

  • Ronning4ever

    Love these series, but I don’t understand how you can talk about Sutter and not mention the fact that he’s literally one of the best PK’ers in the league. Least GA’s league wide for anyone who’s played as many PK minutes as him.

    In the same vein, they’re unlikely to trade a centre without a replacement. The team uses 6 centres a year due to injuries and those are now, in order, Pettersson, Horvat, Sutter, Beagle, Gaudette and Granlund. They won’t trade one without a replacement IMHO.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Last year and the year before Brandon Sutter was one of the very few reliable vets that the Canucks had and didn’t play all that bad. Trade him? That’s a situation whereby if you can’t replace what Brandon can bring (when healthy of course) then why rush into it for its own sake? And I agree with others on here in that if you cannot get someone or something reasonable for # 20 don’t just hand him away. Wouldn’t be sad if he stayed and wouldn’t be sad if he left. Do the right thing, Mr. Benning.

  • Macksonious

    What’s Sutter’s trade value? Should they move him as quickly as possible, or wait and see if it increases?

    Possible concern is if they decide to trade him too soon (this off-season), they’re selling low (due to his current injury). Maybe, it’s best to wait and see how he does next season.

    It’s a gamble either way. I’m leaning towards the latter option.