By Silvertips staff
“The best athlete is made during the offseason.”
When Riley Sutter entered the 2016-17 season, there was a fresh, clean, and blank slate.
Let’s maybe consider the circumstances at play that led up to last season, and you’d think maybe he turned it into a masterpiece.
Entering only in his third season as a Silvertips center, Sutter recovered from a premature and damaging ending to his rookie 2015-16 season with a lower body injury sustained on the Silvertips Alberta swing in January, mere hours after scoring his first career WHL goal in front of his parents at Medicine Hat.
He wound up increasing his goal total by a mere … oh … 19 more after he hit the reset button.
The freshman year totals: one goal, four points, 34 games. The sophomore year totals: 20 goals, 39 points, 67 games.
By the way: he was born Oct. 25, 1999, so he’s not even eligible (cut-off date is September 15) for the NHL Entry Draft until next summer.
That means one more year of getting bigger, stronger, faster, and quicker – before NHL teams can swoop in. His 6-foot-3, 201 pound frame suggests the big and strong part is being nailed to a “T”. As far as the faster and quicker part? He’s working out this summer with Kelowna-based skating and skills coach Aaron Konescni.
Among the clientele: Shea Weber, Dany Heatley, Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris, Duncan Keith, and Curtis Lazar.
The big year for the big Sutter could be right around the corner. And as far as his bloodlines (father, Ron, a former 19-year NHL veteran now turned Calgary Flames director of player development) – there are 12 Sutters (11 in the WHL, 9 from the NHL) who have played at the big league or major junior level and provide infinite family support.
Silvertips assistant coach Mitch Love shared more on Riley’s promise and potential.
RE: Impressions on this past season
LOVE: “Just looking at the facts, his 16-17 year old year was a drastic change in a positive light for the Silvertips and him personally. Having a season ending injury, the previous year and then coming back, and having the ability to score 20 goals as a 17-year old is a tough feat to do. Here’s a guy who has very good vision, very good hands, a pro type shot, so I’m not surprised about the 20 goals last year.
The big thing going into his draft year will being able to stay focused on the process, meaning ‘how can I get better today and not worry about an end result about the NHL Draft next June?’ He’s got great bloodlines and have great people who support him and have been through this before which helps him. Just getting quicker, faster, and more explosive of a skater gives him more of a pro opportunity and upside.”
RE: Seeing a skating coach and where that takes his game
LOVE: “He’s already a 6-foot-3, 200 pounds at 17, going on 18. NHL teams drool over centermen who are big like him, who can make hockey plays, win draws, and more that are a big part of the game. Once he gets his skating down, lengthens his stride, finds his edge, and more, he’ll be a guy to be reckoned with in our league. And then there’s pro upside, moving forward.”