Andy Sutton was one of the very few Edmonton Oilers who delivered on what he was supposed to bring. A big, nasty, physical, tough as nails, stay at home defender. Sutton tied for a team best +5 last season, was suspended twice and instilled an element of fear towards opponents that was very sparse on the Oilers club. He understands his role and knows what he is supposed to bring to the table, something that I hope would rub off on his teammates. The Oilers felt his importance by re-signing to a one year deal before he hit the UFA market.
How can Sutton improve on his season? I’m not sure that he really can. He is as advertised, but it’s something that the Oilers desperately need. Some pundits have him labeled as the #7 or #8 defenseman. I think he should play more than that. On a team that is physically limited, Sutton brings the hammer and he does it without being too much of a liability defensively. While Sutton is getting up there in age, he is the kind of security blanket that is needed for the Oilers to break in some mobile, younger offensive defensemen.
If I Could Grant One Wish – Incognito: While Andy Sutton has gone relatively unnoticed by fans, he is certainly under the thumb of the NHL and their disciplinary team. What Sutton needs is to stay away from the headshots that has gotten him into suspension trouble, but it’s a tough thing to do when he is 6’6″. The opponents’ head becomes the first point of contact when Sutton delivers a hit. As Oilers’ fans, I think we have to live with the way he plays and deal with the consequences. He keeps things pretty honest for players in the room and on the ice. His veteran leadership is something that is needed.
Prediction For 2013 – Will Be Suspended At Least Once During This Season: The NHL has had a close eye on Sutton throughout his career. His brand of play is physical, borderline dirty. But that’s what Sutton is and that’s what the Oilers need him to bring. It keeps everyone honest on the ice. Like I said above, Oilers fans will have to live with the way he plays and deal with the consequences. I don’t think I’d want Andy Sutton to be any other way.