Andrew MacDonald was recently signed to a four year contract extension just a few days ago. The 23-year old defenseman has registered one goal and four assists in 38 games played with a +3 rating. Since he has arrived from Bridgeport, AMac has been a solid rock on the blue-line making smart defensive plays and engaging in the rush as well.
A friend of mine who has played defense his whole life at various competitive levels told me that when he was being coached as a kid, the best advice given to him was that if he was barely noticed on the ice then he was doing a good job of playing defensively. I’d have to say I agree with this. Typically defenseman are not used to score goals, and although MacDonald has been trying to produce more on the score-sheet, he is the type of player that makes safe decisions with the puck. Although some fans might not see this aspect of the game as closely as they do goal-scoring, head coach Scott Gordon has been fully aware of his defensive prowess. Over the last several weeks, AMac has played over 20-minutes a game.
Hopefully this will not be an issue heading into next season. This amount of playing time for a young defenseman could be too much for him to handle this early in his career since this is his first full-time role with the team. But with Andy Sutton likely to be traded by March 3rd, it will be something that won’t be addressed until the summer.
Many bloggers, as well as myself, felt that all signs would point to a trade if Sutton was not extended by the end of the Olympic break. The final game is this Sunday with a very exciting re-match of USA vs. Canada. Is it possible that we may see Snow sign him to a deal by then? Sure, but recent reports on the web have shown that there haven’t been any discussions thus far.
Sutton was quoted on Islanders Point Blank that he wants to remain an Islander; that he is excited about the direction in which the team is heading and wants to continue to be part of the rebuild. Quotes like that allow a shimmer of hope that Andy could be re-signed this off-season regardless of what team he is traded too.
If he isn’t, then the team will have Streit, Gervais, MacDonald, Hillen, Martinek and Witt under contract for next year, assuming Kohn will go back to Bridgeport. I also don’t expect Witt to be on the starting roster next year as well. Without Sutton, we are looking at a very fragile defense. Sad to say that the coaching staff has to expect Martinek to miss a considerable amount of time since he gets hurt for great lengths every season. With that being said, the team only has four defenseman that are likely to play most of the year.
Sutton is a 6’6 machine that hits anything and everything, something this team has lacked over the past few years since the departures of Eric Cairns and Steve Webb. He also isn’t afraid to block shots and is a decent skater for a man of his size. He may not be a top-2 defenseman, but definitely a top-4 that is very valuable to any team that has him.
After seeing MacDonald get locked up for the next four years and Sutton still waiting for his fate to be determined, I think it’s safe to assume that Snow is going to pull the trigger on a deal by the deadline.
However, I am not that convinced that Roloson will be dealt. The Islanders are six points out of the playoffs with 20 games to go. Dealing Sutton for picks and/or prospects makes perfect sense, but trading away the goalie who has kept you in the hunt all along with one of your best defenseman sends a message to fans that management isn’t expecting a playoff berth. I don’t think that Garth plans on letting that happen. Therefore, that means that Snow may look to make a deal that brings back a player of impact as opposed to a prospect. I’m not talking about a Kovalchuk-like deal, but something that helps the roster now as opposed to just in the future.
But at the same time, then the Isles are only left with a recovering Rick DiPietro and a rusty Martin Biron. Anything can happen, but these question marks are enough to make me doubt a Roloson trade unless it’s for the right deal.
Fortunately we only have to wait four more days for these questions to be answered.