Cap comparables: How Brandon Sutter stacks up

The Vancouver Canucks has a lot of faith in the former Penguins forward as they hand him a five year extension.

The Vancouver Canucks signed Brandon Sutter to a five-year, $21.875-million contract extension Tuesday and in doing so they put a lot of stock in the 26-year-old centre.

Sutter, who was acquired by the Canucks last week in a deal that sent Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening to the Pittsburgh Penguins, is a quality two-way centre who had 21 goals, 12 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 80 games with the Penguins last season. He has 185 points in 495 career NHL games and is known for his strong defensive play.

If the Canucks label Bo Horvat as the team’s No. 2 centre behind Henrik Sedin then Sutter could end up being one of the most expensive third-line centres in the NHL.

It’s unclear at this time how the Canucks plan to use Sutter but a cap hit of $4.375 million means the organization thinks highly of the 11th-overall pick from 2007 – Sutter is set to earn $3.3 million in 2014-15 before his extension kicks in for the 2016-17 campaign.

With that in mind, here are a handful of players on similar contracts that Sutter will likely be compared to in the coming years.

Tyler Bozak, (Five-years, $21 million, $4.2-million cap hit)

Although Bozak was the No. 1 centre with the Maple Leafs when playing with Phil Kessel, he’s better equipped for a supporting role, which is something we might see on a new-look Leafs team in 2015-16 (if he isn’t traded prior to the season that is). The 29-year-old is solid in the faceoff circle and coming off a career high 23 goals and 49 points. He is also coming off a career worst minus-34 rating, but that speaks more to how poorly the Maple Leafs played than Bozak’s ability. It will be interesting to see how he performs without his pal Phil the Thrill.

Artem Anisimov (five years, $22.75 million, $4.5-million cap hit)

Like Sutter, Anisimov has one year remaining on his current deal before he begins to reap the financial benefits of his five-year extension. The 27-year-old was acquired by the Blackhawks as part of the multi-player deal that sent Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets and is someone Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman had “been chasing for some time.” He’s a big body who can contribute on the penalty kill and whose slick skating helps him chip in on offence, just like Sutter.

Craig Smith (five years, $21.25 million, $4.25-million cap hit)

Smith is coming off back-to-back 20-goal campaigns, registering 96 points over the last two seasons and is one of the more underrated centres in the league. The 25-year-old was drafted 98th overall by the Predators in 2009 and has spent his entire career with the franchise. He can give you 15-20 minutes a night of energy, enthusiasm and he can chip in on the power play. He’s the under-the-radar type player that symbolizes what the Predators are all about. They don’t have too many flashy names up front but they get the job done – just like Smith does.

Carl Soderberg (five years, $23.75 million, $4.75-million cap hit)

Signing Soderberg after acquiring him from the Bruins was a way for the Avalanche to replace Ryan O’Reilly (even though they signed Soderberg before trading O’Reilly to the Sabres). Soderberg turns 30 in October and is coming off a 13-goal, 44-point season. The Swede isn’t an all-star or someone you want to rely on for top-line production, but he’s a well-rounded centre who will likely be tasked with manning the Avs’ second line behind Matt Duchene.

Other cap comparables:

Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils, six years, $4-million cap hit
Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators, four years, $3.937-million cap hit
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues, three years, $3.7-million cap hit
Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames, three years, $3.575-million cap hit
Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens, four years, $3.5-million cap hit

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