Hard-hitting defenseman agrees on 3-year deal
One of the most relentless defensemen in the National Hockey League is now a member of the New York Islanders. The Islanders have agreed to terms with Brendan Witt on a three-year contract.
'We were looking for competitors and today we signed one of the fiercest in the league in Brendan Witt," said Islanders Vice President and general manager Neil Smith. "Our coach Ted Nolan holds Brendan in the highest regard and was very interested in bringing him to Long Island, and I know Brendan was extremely excited about the prospect of playing for Ted.
"After battling against Brendan for ten seasons when he was with the Capitals, our players and our fans know how great it is to have him on our side now. He never takes a shift off. There's no question we're a much tougher matchup with Brendan on our blue line."
The veteran of ten NHL seasons is one of the game's hardest hitters and most reliable defensive defensemen. In 642 NHL games, all but the last 17 with Washington before a late-season trade to Nashville in 2005-06, the 6-2, 220-pound defenseman has 20 goals, 66 assists and 1,103 penalty minutes.
Witt was the Capitals' first round pick (11th overall) in the 1994 Entry Draft. The 31-year old Saskatchewan native played ten seasons in Washington, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998. Last season, he had a goal, ten assists and 141 penalty minutes in 55 games before being traded in March to the Predators for Kris Beech and a 2006 first round draft pick. Witt had three assists in 17 regular season games and was scoreless in five playoff games with Nashville. For the season he had an even plus-minus rating and a combined 209 penalty minutes.
"From the beginning, the Islanders were at the top of the list of teams I wanted to sign with," Witt said tonight. "This is a franchise with an incredible tradition and I'm excited to be part of the new era on Long Island. I appreciate the faith Neil Smith has put in me and I'm looking forward to being coached by Ted Nolan. We're going to be a team that Islander fans can be proud of."