Sutter headed to Rats UPDATED
Five new names will be on the River Rats roster for tonight's game at Bridgeport, including rookie Brandon Sutter.
The 20-year-old Sutter, who made his pro debut with Albany last spring, has been sent to the Rats on a two-week conditoning assignment by the Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted him 11th overall in 2007. Sutter is meeting the team in Connecticut.
In his first full pro season, the 6-foot-3, 183-pound Sutter had a goal and five assists and was minus-1 playing in 50 of Carolina's 62 games. He missed time early this season following a well-publicized hit from Islanders forward Doug Weight in late October.
"He can only be down here for two weeks, so I'm not sure if he's just here for the weekend or one game," Rats head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said following today's morning skate at the former Knickerbocker Arena.
"He has NHL experience, but he's still only (20) years old. He's not going to come down here and save us. He hasn't played a lot, either, so his conditioning could be a factor. You can skate all you want, but come the game it's a different kind of conditioning because you're banging bodies and you have to stop and start. He's going to come down and I'm going to play him a lot in all situations. He's just another piece of the puzzle that's going to help us win tonight."
Joining the Rats from the ECHL are defensemen Ryan McGinnis (6-2, 206) and Mitch Ganzak (5-11, 200) and forwards Ryan Cruthers (6-1, 184) and Aaron Clarke (5-9, 185). All four players, along with Albany forward Brad Herauf, injured defenseman Brett Carson and goaltenders Justin Peters and Daniel Manzato, were on the ice for this morning's skate.
"Tonight will be the first night that we have so many new faces in the lineup," Daniels said. "We sat down with the new guys and kind of went over systems with them and what we do. As I told them, there's a lot being thrown at them but for them to just go out and play your game. Just go out and play. If we see something we can go out and fix, we'll talk to them on the bench. But right now, just go out and help us win."
Tonight is the first game for the Rats since their team bus crashed in the early morning hours of Feb. 19 on the Mass Turnpike, 56 miles east of Albany. Seven players injured in the accident will be missing, as will radio color analyst John Hennessy.
"It's unfortunate, but thank God nobody was more hurt," said McGinnis, who was scoreless and plus-2 in two games Dec. 12 and 13 for Albany. He has 12 points (2g, 10a) in 43 games for ECHL Florida.
"It's like nothing you would even think about would happen, and if it did, never to you or people that you know. Now it's over and done with. I just want to supply good defense, try to stay mistake-free, be good on the penalty kill and give a little bit of energy, and hopefully that will keep me here more than what I'm expected to."
Cruthers, a native of Farmingdale, leads ECHL Mississippi in scoring with 56 points (26g, 30a) in 50 games. He had two assists in five games over two separate recalls with the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters this season.
"It's an unfortuante turn of events and hopefully we can fill a role for these guys while their guys get healthy," Cruthers said. "It's a great opportunity for us to show what we can do and also try to help the team get some W's."
Clarke comes from ECHL Wheeling, where is is third in team scoring with 37 points (11g, 26a) in 40 games, and is plus-8. He has also played seven games for Binghamton (1g, 0a) and three for Providence (0g, 1a) in the AHL this season.
Also from Wheeling is Ganzak, who has 33 points (5g, 28a) and is a plus-12 in 48 games. He had one assist in two games last season for Manitoba, and was scoreless in one game for Norfolk this season.