ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim Ducks signed veteran defenceman Andy Sutton to a two-year contract worth US$4.25 million Monday, filling a major need on their depleted blue-line.
The 35-year-old Sutton played in 72 games and scored 13 points last season with the New York Islanders and Ottawa, which acquired him at the trade deadline. The 11-year veteran also finished second in the NHL with 204 blocked shots while ranking among the league leaders in hits.
“I’m definitely playing the best hockey of my career,” said Sutton, who also has played for Atlanta, Minnesota and San Jose. “The mixture of experience and being in great shape has let me grow into a more poised player.”
The Ducks desperately needed at least one durable defenceman after losing captain Scott Niedermayer to retirement and trading James Wisniewski to the Islanders during the off-season.
“They brought me in to fill a hole,” Sutton said. “What I can provide, and (judging by) different things I’ve read, I think I can complement the Ducks really well.”
Anaheim also signed defenceman Toni Lydman at the start of free agency to join Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Brookbank. The Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup championship team was defined by the NHL’s most fearsome defensive duo in Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, but Sutton should help fill the physical void left by Pronger last summer, while Visnovsky and first-round pick Cam Fowler are among the candidates to pick up Niedermayer’s offence.
“We’ve got great goaltending and obviously a lot of dynamic forwards,” Sutton said. “We’ve added some pieces on the back end that are going to help us get the shots per game down, and some guys that get in the way of the puck. We have guys that can move it up to the skilled forwards really well.”
While the Ducks targeted Sutton in the opening days of free agency, Sutton entertained offers from several teams, but hoped to land with Anaheim. He moved his family to Manhattan Beach for the summer to escape the stifling humidity of Georgia, where they had lived since his time with the Thrashers.
“We’re definitely making the move out here more long-term,” Sutton said. “Everything came together, and now we don’t have to leave.”