In the Islanders' first major move before today's trade deadline, defenseman Andy Sutton was traded to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft.
The 34-year old Sutton had four goals and eight assists in 54 games this season for the Islanders and emerged as the team's most valuable commodity. He was second in the league with 153 blocked shots. With his size (6-6, 245 pounds) and strong play this season, Sutton became a logical target for teams looking to shore up their defense heading into the postseason.
"We thank Andy Sutton for his time here," general manager Garth Snow said. "He's played really well for us, especially this year. He's gotten a few bad breaks regarding injuries [in the past] but he'll be missed not only on the ice but off the ice, as well."
Coach Scott Gordon said he was impressed with Sutton's play throughout the season and the leadership he provided.
"He's one of our top defensive guys," Gordon said. "We didn't know what to expect after all the injuries last year. I can't say enough about how he came back, the way he prepares on and off the ice. He's a great example for all our players."
Snow said that despite unloading his veteran defenseman for a young asset and establishing the Islanders as sellers before today's 3 p.m. deadline for trades, the organization still believes it remains in the playoff hunt.
"This by no means is an indication we can't win," Snow said. "We're only six points out and this is a great opportunity for our young players to fight for a last playoff spot."
Snow said he believed that the return of a second-round pick was consistent with the value of a rental like Sutton. Ottawa acquired the pick from San Jose along with Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek for Dany Heatley and a fifth-rounder in September.
"It's a fair price," Snow said. "That's what the market is for a player of this nature, especially in terms of what a defenseman was bringing back. It's a good move for our organization when you look at what the future bears. The play of Andrew MacDonald and Dustin Kohn and the health of Jack Hillen enabled us to make a move like this."
Kohn, who has two assists in 11 games for the Islanders, was recalled from Bridgeport to replace Sutton. Sutton's absence will provide an opportunity for Kohn, and it also will require the team's other defensemen to fill a pretty sizable void.
Sutton, who will turn 35 next week, has played in only four playoff games in his career. He likely will get another opportunity to play in the postseason for Ottawa, which sits in third place in the Eastern Conference and ranks first in the Northeast Division.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity," Sutton said. "Being an older player and getting the chance to play on such a great team and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup is a dream come true."