UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -The New York Islanders got bigger and a bit younger on the blue line Friday night when they signed 6-foot-6 defenseman Andy Sutton to a three-year contract.
Sutton will absorb a lot of the minutes and responsibilities of 37-year-old Sean Hill, a defensive defenseman who signed with the Minnesota Wild after being suspended during last season's playoffs for violating the NHL's drug policy.
Known for physical play and shot-blocking, the 32-year-old Sutton posted two goals and 14 assists with Atlanta last season - his eighth in the NHL. The Islanders needed another veteran on defense as they also lost offensive-minded blue-liner Tom Poti to Washington.
``Andy adds a little bit of everything both on offense and defense and we really like what he brings to the table,'' Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. ``We talk about heart, grit and character, and Andy Sutton has a ton of it all. He's a big guy who plays big and isn't afraid to do the dirty work.
``He fills a big void for us, and our fans are going to love to watch him in an Islanders uniform because he's a competitor and hard worker.''
The 234-pound Sutton joins a defense corps that features youngsters Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli along with older players Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brendan Witt. New York also hopes to get more out of Radek Martinek, who was limited to 43 games last season after breaking a foot in December and a leg in February after his return.
``We're very pleased to bring Andy Sutton to Long Island on a long-term deal,'' Islanders general manager Garth Snow said in a statement. ``He fits the personality of the team Ted and I are putting together.''
In 432 NHL games with Atlanta, Minnesota and San Jose, Sutton has 27 goals with 78 assists. Despite playing in only 55 games last season, Sutton ranked 19th in the NHL in blocked shots with 162. In 2005-06, he was fourth in the league with 195 blocks.
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