We have a better idea of who Brian Sutherby is this season, but I'm not really sure we have a good idea yet.
Sutherby as an athlete is wonderfully talented. He is 6-3, 209 pounds, a good skater and a man who can hit and fight. That's why he was taken 26th overall by Washington in the 2000 entry draft.
But in the process of moving from the Capitals to the Ducks to the Stars, Sutherby has clearly showed some flaws. He has not been the most durable player, for instance. He played 59 games last season (knee and oblique), 50 the year before that (mostly groin) and 69 the year before that (hand mostly). He has not been able to establish himself as a two-way checker (with the exception of a 30-point season in 2005-06). In 363 career NHL games, he has 34 goals and 43 assists for 77 points.
What's more, he's only twice been in the playoffs and scored no points in 10 combined games.
So there's a reason the Stars were able to pick him up in a trade for prospect David McIntyre (and a conditional sixth round pick) from Anaheim last season.
But what the Stars hope is that Sutherby has gone through all of the growing pains he's going to need. He is 27 years old, and the Stars are not going to ask him to be any more than a complementary forward. He will probably play about 10 minutes a game, and probably center the fourth line. While he will battle with Toby Petersen for that role, I'm guessing that Petersen is more of a jack-of-all-trades the way Stu Barnes was a few years back. Petersen might center that line if Sutherby is injured, but I really feel the Stars want to give Sutherby a role and let him get used to it.
And I think that's a good idea. Sutherby is decent in the faceoff circle and has size. That could make him a versatile pivot on a line with someone like Petersen and Tom Wandell if the team needs skill or with Ray Sawada and Krys Barch if you want a little more punch.
Bottom line, Sutherby can do a lot of things that can help the Stars and give them a little more North American edge than they have had in the past.
That's something that seems to fit with Dallas right now.