Now that former Senators blueliner, Andy Sutton, has signed a 2-year contract with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks worth $4.25 million, you can officially cue the bellyaches and moans from the bleeding heart Senators fans. You know, the same kind of fans who shaven’t gotten over ScotiaBank Place being situated in Kanata instead of at Lebreton Flats. In the next few days, I expect something similar to the following sentence to become en vogue:
“At almost $2.0 million per season, why didn’t Bryan Murray let Chris Campoli and Ryan Shannon walk for nothing and re-sign Andy Sutton?!? Murray misses the boat… again.”
Obviously there are some concerns now that Mount Sutton has moved on. Without his and Volchenkov’s presence, Ottawa’s blueline lacks a discernable physical threat. (Ed. note: Although Matt Carkner’s a fine pugilist, he not a feared open ice hitter.) And in Filip Kuba’s absence, the player who provided us with the memorable “Are you an expert?” quote, proved to be a valuable defensive partner for Erik Karlsson.
Despite what Sutton brought to the table, he ultimately lacked the footspeed to keep up with the elite forwards of the Eastern Conference. Simply put, the man moves slower than a Kyle Wellwood bowel movement. (Ed. note: There’s a reason why Greg Carvel’s diagrammed whiteboard plays would never represent Andy Sutton’s X movement.) At risk of using a small sample size to illustrate his shortcomings, the Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup with Pittsburgh showcase everything that was Andy Sutton. After his infamous hit on Jordan Leopold (the physical), Sutton was affected psychologically and reverted, out of fear that he would draw a penalty, into a passive style. (Ed. note: It’s almost akin to the arguments made in Zdeno Chara’s walk year. With the exception that Chara was a dynamic two-way workhorse who could log 25-30 minutes of ice-time per game.) Once this physicality was removed from his game, Sutton strictly became a large obstacle in front of the net who was devoted exclusively to blocking shots.
For the next few days, it’s going to be intriguing to see whether the same cynical criticisms of the Gonchar addition, are made of Sutton. For his age and price, could Ottawa afford to give an aging defensive blueliner a multi-year contract? Personally, I’m not convinced. Especially when it would not only cost the team more dollars, it would also create one less roster spot for a promising young prospect in the fall of 2011.