UNIONDALE, NY—Just five points separated the Islanders from the Eastern Conference’s eighth spot heading into Wednesday.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow said he considers his team still in the playoff race. But the GM still chose to build for the long-term rather than make a late push, trading 6-6 defenseman
Andy Sutton to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday in exchange for a 2010 second round pick that originally belonged to San Jose.
The draft choice, expected to be in the 55-60 overall range, will help come June. In the meantime, the Senators obtained Sutton, who entered last night ranked second in the NHL with 153 blocked shots and tallied four goals and eight assists in 54 games for the Isles.
“This is by no means an indication we can’t win,” Snow said to reporters before the game. “We’re only [five] points out and this is a great opportunity for [our] young players to fight for a last playoff spot.”
Goalie Dwayne Roloson could follow Sutton out of Long Island by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline. But Roloson, who is signed through next season, could stay as Rick DiPietro is out indefinitely after experiencing swelling in his surgically repaired left knee.
Snow traded a defenseman to Ottawa just before the deadline for a second straight season. The Isles shipped Chris Campoli, along with forward Mike Comrie, to the Senators last February in exchange for a 2009 first-round pick. Snow packaged that selection in a trade to move up and draft defenseman Calvin de Haan 16th overall.
The 34-year-old Sutton is an impending free agent who totaled seven goals in 135 games over three seasons since signing with the Islanders, going minus-6 in accumulating 199 penalty minutes. Ottawa leads the Northeast Division by a single point over Buffalo and entered Wednesday in sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s third spot.
“We wanted to get a little more depth on the blue line and I think Andy fits that need,” Senators general manager Bryan Murray said to reporters in Ottawa. “I wanted somebody I could look up to – and I have to do that – and then up front with Matt Cullen it gives us
the versatility that I talked about so it doesn’t appear there’s much more going to happen. But who knows at the end of the day what might stick its head up and maybe be available.”
Sutton joins the fifth team in his career. The 10-year veteran has made the Stanley Cup
playoffs once, logging zero points and a minus-2 rating in a first-round series for an Atlanta Thrashers squad that was swept in four games by the Rangers to end the 2006-07 campaign.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Sutton said in an audio clip disseminated by the team. “That’s the first thing I said to Bryan, I thanked him so much for the opportunity. 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.”