We continue breaking down the last 12 months of development for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for right winger, Riley Sutter. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Sutter is a 22-year-old right winger who played junior hockey for the Everett Silvertips in the WHL. The Calgary, Alberta native was drafted by the Capitals in the third round (#93 overall) of the 2018 NHL entry draft. Sutter signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals on September 29, 2018 at $925,000 AAV. With entry-level slides for his first two seasons, Sutter will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.
Sutter played four seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL), all with the Everett Silvertips. He began his junior hockey career in 2015-16 and played in 31 games, scoring just one goal.
Sutter improved his productivity greatly for the 2016-17 season, playing in 67 games, scoring 20 goals and earning 18 assists. He was even better during the 2017-18 season when he played in 68 games, scoring 25 goals and earning 28 assists. During the 2018 post season, he had 9 goals and 10 assists in 21 post season games.
Sutter was off to a great start for the 2018-19 season with 14 goals and 27 assists before being sidelined for the remainder of the regular season with an injury. During his four year career in the WHL, he had 137 points, 60 goals, 137 penalty minutes, and a +38 rating in 204 career games.
The 2019-20 season saw Sutter transition to the AHL. Unfortunately for him, injuries would once again dominate his season from the start, after he was injured in the prospect tournament in Nashville. He would record one goal and three assists in his rookie campaign.
The 2020-21 season was somewhat similar for Sutter, as he would miss 11 of the Bears 36 games due to injury. He recorded no goals and nine assists in 25 games played during the Covid-shortened season.
Sutters’ 2021-22 campaign was very similar to his previous AHL seasons. Injuries hindered his season right from the start. He showed occasional positive sequences during play, but the scoring remained an issue. He generated just 31 shots for the season for a 6.4% shooting percentage. Sutter has to generate more shots. Sutter finished the season with two goals and six assists in 39 games and missed the Bears three postseason games.
2021-2022 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Riley Sutter during the 2021-2022 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
The 2021-22 season did not get off to a good start for Sutter. He was injured during Hershey’s preseason and has yet to see game action.
Sutter made his season debut at Springfield on November 5 and earned his first point of the season in the game with a secondary assist on Kody Clark’s opening goal. The native of Calgary, Alberta potted his first goal of the campaign with 10 seconds remaining in a 5-2 loss to Charlotte on November 14.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 15, 2021
Sutter played in all 10 games in the month, but left the last game of November in the second period after missing a check and hitting the boards.
The Bears had center issues all month (injuries and callups), but Sutter really did not move up in the lineup. He has been surpassed by Mason Morelli, who is on an AHL contract.
Sutter was injured in the first period against Rochester on November 26 and did not return to the game. He (#24) was skating into the corner and was trying to lay a hit, missed the hit and crashed into the boards on his left side. He left the ice favoring his shoulder.
At this point, Sutter needs to figure out a role for himself. He is not a strong offensive player, so his ticket to playing time is as a bottom six forward. He needs to tighten up his game defensively, improve his penalty killing and do all the little things that earns the trust of the coach. Sutter is still young with regards to AHL experience. He has two goals and 13 assists in 60 AHL games played, which is still less than a full season.
The Calgary, Alberta native was out for the first seven games of the month due to injury. He returned on December 27 and assisted on Beck Malenstyn’s third period goal in a 4-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Sutter was held pointless in the rematch with the Penguins on December 29, but his line was on the ice for three of Hershey goals in a 6-1 victory. With the current roster chaos, the son of former NHL’er Ron Sutter has the opportunity to carve himself a bigger role. This is a key stretch for Sutter’s development. He must shoot the puck more. A lot more.
For the season, Sutter has one goal and two assists in 12 games played. He’s shot the puck just six times for a 16.67% shooting percentage.
It was another lackluster month from Sutter. The third-year center had a single assist to bring his season point total to four. With a high rate of roster turnover, Sutter has had the opportunity to carve out a bigger role, but has been unable to do so.
Sutter remains a fourth line player, while Drake Rymsha and Marcus Vela (both on AHL deals) have moved ahead of him on the depth chart.The Calgary, Alberta native is at a crossroads. He needs to figure out what type of player he is and fully commit to that role. Otherwise, Sutter is going to get lost in the shuffle.
February started out well for Sutter. He had the secondary assist on Kody Clark’s game-winning goal in Cleveland on February 4. On the next night, Sutter opened the scoring against Cleveland when he intercepted a Scott Harrington clearing attempt and lifted his shot over the glove of Jean-Francois Berube for his second goal of the season.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) February 5, 2022
Sutter then set up Beck Malenstyn’s game-winning goal. He was named the game’s number one star.
Unfortunately for Sutter, that was the end of his scoring in the month. He failed to record a point in his last seven games and was a minus five during that span. Consistency continues to be an issue for Sutter. The pivot just cannot seem to put a stretch of quality performances together.
Sutter skated in Hershey’s first six games of the month. He registered an assist against Lehigh Valley on March 8 for his lone point of the month. Sutter was felled by the injury bug again and was sidelined for the last six games of the month.
Sutter is in the midst of another frustrating season. He has missed a significant of time to a variety of injuries and continues to struggle to find his offensive game.
April was another lost month for Sutter. He missed the entire month with an injury he suffered in March. Sutter totaled eight points, two goals and six assists, in 39 games on the season.
The Calgary, Alberta native was outplayed by players on AHL-only contracts and finds himself at a bit of a crossroads. He has one year remaining on his contract and next season will be a make-or-break season for Sutter. He needs to find a niche for himself or next season will be his last in the organization.
At this point, Sutter needs to figure out a role for himself. He is not a strong offensive player, so his ticket to playing time is as a bottom six forward. He needs to tighten up his game defensively, improve his penalty killing and do all the little things that earns the trust of the coach.
Sutter continues to battle injuries and inconsistencies, which we’ve seen before in young AHL players (See Lucas Johansen). The encouraging part for Sutter is he’s still just 22, and a breakout season is not out of the question. He needs to stay relatively healthy for the 2022-23 season.
By Jon Sorensen