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Islanders defenceman Andy Sutton expected to play Thursday

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - New York Islanders defenceman Andy Sutton, who has missed the first eight games of the season following hand surgery, is expected to play Thursday at Philadelphia, the team said Tuesday.

The return is key for the Islanders, who have been decimated by injuries on the blue line. New York is also missing defencemen Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek and Freddy Meyer.

Witt and Martinek are still a few weeks away from returning. Meyer is listed as day to day with an abdominal injury. All three missed Monday night's 4-2 home loss to the New York Rangers.

To make room on the roster, the Islanders reassigned defenceman Jack Hillen to Bridgeport of the AHL on Tuesday. In six games this season with New York, Hillen had no points and six penalty minutes. He was a healthy scratch for two games.

Hillen was signed in April as an undrafted free agent and played in the Islanders' final two games last season.

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