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Canucks GM: Sutter stabilizes center position as Sedins near retirement

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning, who announced a five-year, $21.875-million contract extension for the newly-acquired Brandon Sutter on Tuesday, is satisfied with the look of his center corps - for the time being, at least.

Benning acknowledges he'll soon need to think about replacing two-thirds of his top line, as center Henrik Sedin and brother Daniel Sedin - the twin faces of the franchise - get set to turn 35 in September.

"At some point we have to make plans and get the pieces in place to survive and be successful after the Sedins decide to retire," he said, according to Ben Kuzma of The Province.

"We’re going to still work to get a high-end centre, but these guys don’t grow on trees. You have to draft and develop them. But I’m comfortable for the next little while with our centres."

As for Sutter, Benning believes he'll be an effective presence down the middle over the course of the next five years.

"He’s a solid two-way player and throughout his career he’s been pretty resilient and hasn’t had a lot of injuries," Benning said. "And he’s always played against top players in Pittsburgh and Carolina and has always been a matchup guy. He has a mature game and is always on the right side of the puck.

"He’s the type of player and has the type of game where he can play into his mid-30s and be an effective player."

While Bo Horvat has already made the jump to the big club, young centers Jared McCann and Cole Cassels remain a few years away from making an impact at the NHL level. The Sedins are under contract for three more years, with Sutter and Derek Dorsett now the only forwards with deals that run past 2017-18.

Change may be afoot for the Canucks, but for now, they're putting their best foot forward, with Sutter now cemented as a foundation piece.

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