PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Add another Sutter to the NHL landscape.
Saskatoon Blades forward Lukas Sutter went in the second round—39th overall—to the Winnipeg Jets as the NHL draft resumed Saturday with rounds two through seven.
Uncle Darryl, coach of the Stanley Cup champion Kings, looked on from the floor of the Consol Energy Center. Father Rich was in the stands, along with Lukas’ mother and sisters.
The young Blade is part of the second generation of Sutters. Four of his cousins have already been drafted: Brody (193rd overall in 2011 by Carolina), Brandon (11th overall, 2007, Carolina), Brett (179th overall, 2005, Calgary) and Shaun (102nd overall, 1998, Calgary).
Lukas’ dad and five of his uncles, (Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane and Ron) combined for 3,000 points in just under 5,000 NHL games.
“It’s an honour, it’s something you take a lot of pride in,” Lukas said of the Sutter name. “The last name is obviously a legacy in the game of hockey, something you want to live up to. And that’s something I really pride myself on.”
The name will no doubt live on.
“Hopefully there’s a third generation, but I’m in no hurry for that right now,” the 18-year-old Lukas said with a laugh.
There are already Sutters in the wings, however.
“Ronnie’s got a boy who’s 12. His name’s Riley and he’s the next up-and-comer,” said Lukas.
Lukas was ranked 39th in the final Central Scouting list, up from 86th in the midtable rankings.
“We really like the way he plays. He provides a lot of sandpaper for us,” said Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. “In the prospect category, he’s someone that is very determined to play. In the interview process and the way he plays, we’re real excited that we were able to get him.”
The two-day event resulted in the selection of 211 players from a dozen countries: Canada (99), U.S. (56), Sweden (22), Russia (11), Finland (9), Czech Republic (6), Denmark (2), Latvia (2), Belarus (1), Germany (1), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (1).
The Brit is Cody Payne, a London-born winger who grew up in Canada and plays for the Plymouth Whalers.
The OHL contributed 48 draftees, compared to 32 for the WHL and 19 from the QJMHL.
The six-foot 207-pound Lukas seems a quintessential Sutter—in his words, “an honest, gritty two-way player.”
He had 28 goals, 31 assists and 165 penalty minutes in 70 games with Saskatoon last season.
He compares himself to Brandon, “with a little more sandpaper.”
“You have to play that way, I think, to be a successful player nowadays,” said Lukas. “Look at the way L.A. played down the stretch. Everyone was physical. They paid a price and that’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
It was the second straight day that a Sutter had figured in the draft proceedings.
On Friday, the Penguins acquired Brandon as part of the deal that sent forward Jordan Staal to Carolina during the first round of the draft.
“A lot of things going on in our family right now,” said Rich, who played 874 NHL games with seven teams after being drafted 10th overall in 1982 by Pittsburgh. “With Brett’s wedding coming up in a couple of weeks, we can really sit down and have some fun and enjoy it.”
For the second generation of Sutters, there is always someone to solicit hockey advice from. Lukas says they speak as one.
“It doesn’t matter who you go to. Whether it’s Dad or uncle Ronnie, or uncle Brent,” said Lukas. “You’re going to get the same thing from each and every one of them. They know how to play the game, they know what they’re talking about it. It’s definitely invaluable to have that support system.”
Lukas said he has absorbed the Sutter character and tradition, citing the success of Darryl with the Kings and the values he instilled in the team—”to push yourself, to be better each and every day and to expect the most of yourself.”
“You can always improve and be better tomorrow than you were yesterday,” he added.
But he insists there is no pressure being a Sutter.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “It’s a last name. It’s all I’ve ever known.”
He started skating at two or three, saying he was always drawn to hockey. His family never pushed him but Rich says his son was competitive from the get-go, right from Timbits hockey “when he was just a little guy.”
Lukas, who was born in St. Louis during his dad’s hockey travels, was clearly delighted to be going to Winnipeg, which is close to his home in Lethbridge.
“They’re a young team and I hope to be part of it some day.”
After the Edmonton Oilers opened the draft Friday night by taking Russian sniper Nail Yakupov, there was a run on defenders.
Eight of the first 10 players taken were blue-liners and 13 went in all during the first round.
That drew comparisons to the 2008 draft when 12 defencemen were selected in the first round, including six in the top 10: the Kings’ Drew Doughty (No. 2), the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo (No. 4), the Sabres’ Tyler Myers (No. 12), the Senators’ Erik Karlsson (No. 15), the Rangers’ Michael Del Zotto (No. 20) and the Capitals’ John Carlson (No. 27).
The Montreal Canadiens used their first-round pick—third overall—on centre Alex Galchenyuk, Yakupov’s teammate at Sarnia. Other Canadian team first-round picks were defenceman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. under-18 team (Winnipeg Jets), defenceman Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors (Toronto Maple Leafs), defenceman Codi Ceci of the Ottawa 67’s (Ottawa Senators), Quebec high school centre Mark Jankowski (Calgary Flames), and centre Brendan Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls (Vancouver Canucks).
Almost all of those taken at the draft will return to their junior teams for seasoning. Only nine players from last year’s draft made their debut in the NHL during the 2011-12 season and six of those were among the first eight players taken.
Familiar names going in the 2012 draft included Belleville goalie Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins), the younger brother of Habs defenceman P.K. Subban; Edmonton Oil Kings centre Henrik Samuelsson (Phoenix Coyotes), son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson; U.S. under-18 defenceman Stephan Matteau (New Jersey Devils), son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau and Kamloops winger Tom Bozon (Montreal Canadiens), son of Phillipe Bozon, the first French-trained product to play in the NHL.