PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Newly acquired Penguins forward Brandon Sutter was on the opposite end of a trade Friday between Carolina and Pittsburgh that sent Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes.
And it appears his thoughts mirrored that of Staal’s.
Staal was in Pittsburgh playing behind centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and longed for more responsibility and a bigger offensive role, along with the chance to play with his brother, Eric.
Sutter, 23, centered the third line in Carolina and said he desired more, too.
“One thing I mentioned to (Carolina) was that I felt like I was stuck,” Sutter said in his first interview with the Pittsburgh media since Friday’s trade. “They were always expecting me to be good defensively, which is fine, but in terms of offense there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity.
“I don’t want to be looked at as just a defensive player. I want to score goals. … I’m very comfortable on penalty kill and checking. If you can combine the two then you’ll turn yourself into a good player.”
Upon being traded to the Penguins, many wrote that Sutter and Staal have similar playing styles. Both are strong defensive forwards with the ability to score on the other end.
Many wrote that Staal has more offensive upside, though, and noted that’s what separates the two players.
Sutter — 6-foot-3, 183 pounds — urges that he’s looking to prove some of those opinions wrong.
“I’m my own player. I don’t feel like I’m here to replace anyone,” Sutter said. “Jordan is obviously a great player, a player that you want to be like. Hopefully, one day I can try and find that level that he was at in terms of offensive numbers. I think I can. I don’t feel like I’m replacing someone.
“The Penguins had to make a deal and I’m glad they picked me. I’m going to a winning team where there’s opportunity. I feel they chose me because they wanted me. I look at it that way. I’m not trying to replace anyone. I’ll play my game and not worry about anyone else.”
Sutter produced well offensively for Carolina the last three seasons — his first full seasons in the NHL. Combined, he scored 52 goals and 49 assists for 101 points the last three years.
Staal was a 20-goal scorer in three of his last four seasons in Pittsburgh, jumping from just 11 goals in 2010-11 to 25 in 2011-12. Sutter hopes he can make similar strides while also bringing his usual strong, two-way mentality to the rink every day.
“The role I’m going into is one I’m comfortable with and the role I like to play,” Sutter said. “I enjoy playing against the other team’s better players and trying to outplay them. It’s a challenge.”
Most of all, Sutter says he’s excited to come to Pittsburgh and play with a team that is a championship contender every year and the early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2012-13.
“I know from playing against them that they’re a talented group and tough team to play against,” he said. “That’s what’s exciting for me.”