Sutton Back, Hillen to Bridgeport

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With the Islanders defense is Dire Straits as it is, another injury could have really put them but that famous creek without a paddle. Luckily, Andy Sutton, according to Newsday and the team’s official website, is set to make his season debut when the Isles take on the Broad Street Bullies on Thursday.

While he’s a far cry from Paul Coffey, Sutton will be able to give the Isles the toughness they desperately need right now. Aside from Trent Hunter, Nate Thompson, Freddy Meyer and Sean Bergenheim, Doug Weight has been the Islanders biggest physical presence. If you don’t believe me, just ask Brandon Sutter. At any rate, with the way this offense has performed this season, they need as much help on defense as possible.

Much like last season, if the Islanders can get Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek and Freddy Meyer back, the Islanders defense will be solid and the team won’t have to be forced to play catch up every night. Again, Sutton by himself isn’t going to change everything, but he can be a competent player than can give the team one less thing to worry about. Aside from giving the team an edge on defense, he’ll be able to play the point on the powerplay too if he absolutely has to, providing the team with another option for the second unit. Before his injury last season, Sutton started to come around and after a rocky start, became a leader on the team. If he can provide that same type of energy and clear the crease, he’ll be a pleasant addition to the lineup.

Nothing against Jack Hillen, but it looks like he’s not quite ready yet to be a regular. A sloppy pass here, a failed shot from the point there, combined with Chris Campoli’s return made Hillen a bit replaceable. Given that he has barely any experience in pro hockey in the first place, some time in Bridgeport could benefit his game immensely. His smarts and skating ability could provide him with an ample start there and by later in the season, he may be ready to give the NHL another whirl. That will only be the case though if this defensive core can stay healthy. Otherwise, guys like Hillen and Brett Skinner will be forced into action and as we’ve seen already this season, they are far from being dependable NHL defenders. That’s not to say that they won’t be at some point, but as of right now, they need to earn a few more bumps and bruises.