Brian Sutherby has it all on paper.
He's 6-2, 204, a good skater, a physical player and a guy who has scored goals in the past.
And yet the Stars have not been able to get much of that out of Sutherby.
Maybe it's his tendency to be injured (he missed 19 games with groin and shoulder injuries and the flu last season and 20 games to knee and stomach injuries the year before). Maybe it's that he probably should play left wing, and the Stars are stacked at left wing. Maybe he just hasn't had the chance to show what he's got yet.
But there clearly is a problem with Sutherby and his fit on the Stars. The 26th overall pick in the 2000 entry draft by Washington, Sutherby scored 34 goals among 77 points in 59 games for Moose Jaw in 2000-01. He then moved the Capitals, made the team as a 20-year-old, mixed in a nice 29 point season in 53 games in the AHL a couple of years later, and hit his peak with 14 goals among 30 points in 76 games for the Capitals in 2005-06.
Sutherby appeared to be a very reliable part of an up-and-coming team.
But then Washington decided it was time to move on and traded Sutherby to Anaheim for a second round draft pick in 2007. The Ducks had him for 62 games and shuffled him to the Stars for prospect David McIntyre. He has been hit-and-miss with the Stars since then. In addition to the 19 games lost to injury last season, Sutherby was a healthy scratch for 16 games. He had five goals and four assists in 46 games and was second on the team in plus-minus at plus-8. He averaged just 8:36 in ice time, less than fellow role players Brandon Segal (11:20), Toby Petersen (10:55) and Fabian Brunnstrom (10:40).
So what's the deal? Stars coach Marc Crawford said last season that Sutherby's injuries didn't allow him to get into a flow. And there seemed be a lack of trust from the coaches that even when he was healthy, he wasn't 100 percent healthy. The flow of the scratches backs that up, as 11 of the healthy scratches came in a 16-game span after the groin injury. In addition, Crawford was playing Sutherby closer to 10 minutes a game earlier in the year and he had four goals in the first 17 games and was plus-6 in that span before the groin injury.
Then, once he was healthy, Sutherby played 14 of the last 16 games, had a goal and two assists and was plus-5 in that span. So maybe he left the coaches with a good last impression and will get more chances this season. He has to get healthy, that's a huge key, but he also has to get the chance to play. With Adam Burish signed and Segal looking for a bigger bite, and Brunnstrom still a pet project, it won't be easy.
Sutherby makes $812,500 in the final year of his contract and is 28 years old. He's probably a viable option in a trade if the Stars really wanted to try to move him to make room for another player. On paper, he seems to be an important player for the Stars, but we'll have to see if he can finally convert that to the ice this season.