Another member of the hockey-playing Sutter family from Viking, Brett Sutter is hoping to make the jump from junior hockey to the pro ranks in 2007-08. The 20-year-old forward, son of Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter, is still eligible to return to the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, where he served as team captain last year. He could also find himself on the Quad City roster in the AHL.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Sutter at the Flames annual prospects camp in July.
HF: After a season in which you seemed to find your offensive game, did you find you went into prospects camp riding a new wave of confidence?
BS: It’s been really great. It’s good coming into camp and seeing how the older guys do it and how the guys who played pro last year do it. Putting yourself up against them and seeing what you have to build for.
HF: Looking at the camp roster, Calgary differs from a lot of teams in that nearly every prospect in the entire system is here. That must bode well for competition.
BS: Yeah, I think it’s good to bring everyone in. I know when I got drafted I got to come up and it was quite the eye opener playing with some of the big boys. But it’s always good to come on the ice and tweak your game a little bit and work on those skills before the important camp comes in September.
HF: What is different this year for you at camp? Do you feel more ready for this level of play?
BS: I’m definitely looking forward to main camp this year. Every camp you get a little better, you get a little more confident and comfortable in the environment. At the same time, they expect a little more from you every time. When camp came, I wanted to make an impression so when main camp comes, I maybe get a little extra look or a little advantage.
HF: Your former team, the Red Deer Rebels, have a distinct prescence at Flames camp. You and J.D. Watt are basically in the same situation. Both of you may be in Red Deer next season, or you could both be in the AHL. It’s not hard to see what you’re hoping for.
BS: Yeah, you definitely want to make the jump to pro, but it’s tough. You have to beat a couple of guys out of their spots who have been around for a while, so it’s something you have to work towards all summer. But right now we’re both setting our sights pretty high, and hopefully we’ll be able to make the step to pro next year.
HF: It was your first run-in with Mike Keenan at prospects camp. What has your first impression been?
BS: He’s been great. He’s kind of stayed low key and let most of the other coaches take care of it while sitting on the sidelines watching everyone. I think he’s been a great guy and has introduced himself to all of us prospects and so far he seems really comfortable.
HF: The Flames seem to have plenty of physical, punishing defensemen in the system right now. Each and every day at camp, how has it been going up against the likes of Gord Baldwin, Matt Pelech, Keith Aulie, and Brad Cole every drill?
BS: It’s been good. It’s been a challenge obviously. We’ve done a lot of battle drills and I think all of us forwards held our own pretty good. You have to get used to playing like that with the new game. Everyone’s still pretty strong and fast, so we have time to get used to it now, and when the season starts we’re ready to go.
HF: After scoring nearly 30 goals in the WHL last season, at what point do you prepare yourself for a different type of role next year at the pro level?
BS: I’m starting to prepare right now. At the end of the season I was starting to try and get my defensive game down, because I know that if I do make the step next year it will be in a third or fourth line role. You have to be willing to do the little things right. You’re not going to score the big goal every night, but it could be the difference when you finish checks or block shots. You just have to be ready to slide into whatever role they give you and you have to be happy with it.
HF: In your eyes, who have you been impressed with at this year’s prospect camp?
BS: There’s definitely a few guys who have imprssed a lot lately. Andrei Tarathukin is one of them. He’s skated in my group, and every time you see him do a drill he impresses you. He does all the little things right and he’s a very skilled player. Another player would be former Red Deer Rebel Cam Cunning. I think he had a really good camp. He skates well. He’s big, strong, and fast. He had a good year in the AHL, and I think he has as good a shot as anyone.
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