Riley Sutter: 2023 Annual Review And Forecast

We continue breaking down the last 12 months of development for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for center Riley Sutter. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page here.)


Sutter, a 23-year-old center, 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 became a restricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season, but was qualified by the Capitals at the end of June, 2023.


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 recorded nine goals and 10 assists in 21 postseason 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 recorded 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 Capitals 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.

Sutter’s 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 finished the season with two goals and six assists in 39 games and missed the Bears three postseason games.

The 2022-23 season was Sutter’s best as a professional. He stayed relatively healthy, but more importantly, settled into his role at center on the 4th line and did a very good job. The effort alone garnered a qualifying offer from the Capitals. Riley remains the Bears best at the dot, but it was his centering the fourth line that was most valuable to the Bears. Head coach Todd Nelson depended on the trio as the Bears shutdown line and they responded nearly every night, all while setting a physical tone in the early going of each game. Sutter has also become a leader on the Bears penalty kill.


The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Riley Sutter during the 2022-2023 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.


Suttter has been the surprise of the first month. After failing to carve out a role in his first three seasons, Sutter’s role was unclear coming into the season. The Calgary, Alberta native has forged a role as a checking center. He has turned himself into a trusted penalty killer, being one of the first two forwards sent over the boards when the Bears area shorthanded.

Sutter sacrifices his body by getting down to block shots. He has improved on faceoffs. Offensively, the son of former NHLer Ron Sutter has already equaled his career high in goals with two.

Monthly Score: 4.0


After scoring twice in the first three games of the season, Sutter’s offense has dried up. The Calgary, Alberta native ended November on a 10-game scoreless drought and has one assist in his last 17 games, an assist on November 11.

Still, Sutter has played an important role for the Bears. His penalty killing has been excellent. He is the first forward over the boards for head coach Todd Nelson and has played a big role in that unit’s success.

The son of former NHL center Ron Sutter is also Hershey’s best faceoff taker. He also centers the fourth line which has been a consistent source of energy for the chocolate and white. It took him a few years, but Sutter has finally carved out a role for himself.

Monthly Score: 3.0


In his fourth professional season, Sutter has finally carved out a role for himself. He is the fourth line center, a checking role, and his line is the energy line.

The son of former NHL center Ron Sutter has also become one of the top penalty killers on the team. He is often the first forward over the boards when the Bears go shorthanded.

Sutter is also the best faceoff taker on the team. While he contributes on most nights in these areas, the Calgary, Alberta native had some struggles this month. He was a minus five after being a plus one heading into December. Sutter had two assists in the month and has five points this season.

Monthly Score: 3.0


Sutter missed his first three games of the season in January. One due to a suspension and the other two as a healthy scratch when the Bears got reinforcements back from Washington. Sutter does not provide much offense. He had a single assist in seven games in the month and has ix points on the season.

However, the Calgary, Alberta native contributes in other ways. He is strong on faceoffs and provides a physical presence on the fourth line. Sutter is also one of the best penalty killers on the team. He is consistently one of first forwards deployed when Hershey heads to the penalty kill.

Monthly Score: 3.0


Sutter centers Hershey’s effective fourth line. The Calgary, Alberta native tallied two goals and assisted on another, making February Sutter’s most productive offensive month of the season.

Sutter recorded a two-point game in Bridgeport on February 3. The pivot opened the scoring 25 seconds into the second period when he put in a rebound off of a Mason Morelli shot. Sutter added a secondary assist on Beck Malenstyn’s third period tally.

His other goal came against Lehigh Valley on February 25. He tied the game in the second period when he tapped in a feed from Joe Snively on the back door. It was Sutter’s fourth goal of the season and that total ties a career high.

The son of former NHLer Ron Sutter has also tied a career high with nine points. Offense is not where Sutter makes his biggest impact. He is strong on faceoffs and his fourth line consistently provides energy for the Bears. Sutter is one of the best penalty killers on the team and is usually one of the two forwards who start the penalty kill.

Monthly Score: 3.0


Sutter struggled to find his niche during the first few seasons of his career, but has found his role this season and he has played his part very well. The Calgary, Alberta native does the little things well.

Sutter centers the fourth line, the team’s energy trio. The line has proven to be a productive in the past few months and can be counted on to be strong defensively.

The pivot is one of Hershey’s best penalty killers and has helped the Bears improve on the kill in March. He usually comes over the boards with Beck Malenstyn as the first forwards on the ice when the team is shorthanded.

Sutter failed to score in March, but he still played his role and contributed in other ways.

Monthly Score: 3.5


Sutter and the fourth line continued their excellent play in the postseason, and where a huge part of the Bears run for a 12th Calder Cup. Nelson used the fourth line on home ice to stymie Coachella Valley’s scoring lines. The inability to match lines was very noticeable in the games played in Palm Desert.

Sutter recorded one of the Bears biggest goals in the postseason, giving them an overtime win against Coachella Valley.

Sutter was tied for third on the Bears in Best plus/minus for the postseason, which is impressive considering he was often facing the opposition’s best lines.

Monthly Score: 3.5



Sutter settled into his role at center on the 4th line and did a very good job. Prior to the 2022-23 season it was difficult to imagine Sutter being a potential future replacement for Nic Dowd at center on the Capitals fourth line. That all changed as a result of his 2022-23 campaign.

Sutter and the fourth line was arguably the Bears most valuable line all season. They provided shutdown defense and established a physical presence that affected the opposition on a nightly basis. Sutter continues to be a force at the faceoff circle and become a dependable force on the penalty kill.

The Capitals signaled they’d like to see what Riley can do next season by extending him a qualifying offer, which was the right move. Will he continue taking sizable leaps in development? If so, the Capitals could have their next center on the fourth line.

By Jon Sorensen

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2022-2023 Prospect Reviews And Forecasts

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Joe Snively
Connor McMichael 
Hendrix Lapierre
Beck Malenstyn
Hunter Shepard
Ivan Miroshnichenko
Ryan Chesley
Joaquim Lemay
Mitchell Gibson
Chase Clark
Brent Johnson
David Gucciardi
Oskar Magnusson
Jake Karabela
Ludwig Persson
Clay Stevenson
Bear Hughes
Haakon Hanelt
Benton Maass
Martin Has
Henrik Rybinski
Bogdan Trineyev
Alexander Suzdalev
Ryan Hofer
Dru Krebs

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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6 Responses to Riley Sutter: 2023 Annual Review And Forecast

  1. Anonymous says:

    I try to hesitate where Sutter would be without all of his injuries, but…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sutts is still just 23. There’s a chance for him yet.

  3. GRin430 says:

    Sutter deserves a shot, and depending on how this off-season goes, and what style the Caps try to play, I would not be surprised to see both him and Dowd in the lineup.

    Dowd showed this past year that he has grown into more of a 3.5th line center. He had double digit goals and assists with line-mates who were hardly snipers. Given better wings, he could probably be the 3C, assuming the Caps wanted to become a very heavy, defense-first team. Put Sutter and Malenstyn on the 4th line with NAK, with Wilson still on the top line, and the Caps might not win the President’s trophy, but if they get into the playoffs nobody will want to play them.

    Even if they decide not to play both at the same time on a regular basis, Sutter provides excellent insurance against an injury to Dowd, who is 33.

    Alternatively, there might be an alternative to move Dowd as part of a package to clear cap space — take Mantha and we’ll throw in Dowd and a mid-round pick next year too…

    • Prevent Defense says:


    • andrew777dc says:

      Does anyone else feel the pressure is on for the vets, i.e. Backy and Osh? With all due respect. And we’re not even talking about Brown or Sheary anymore. Less and less place for Kuzy and Mantha, too. Good players coming up for positions they take up now… I mean, occasionally they do play on the top two lines, but less and less convincingly…

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