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Sutton provides net presence for Oilers

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Andy Sutton, 36, has played 624 games in his NHL career.

The Edmonton Oilers got bigger, meaner and tougher on Free Agency Day 2011 with a number of their signings but they also bolstered their size in the trade market as well with the acquisition of defenceman Andy Sutton from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Kurtis Foster.

"The mix, we felt from a need standpoint, that we needed to try to upgrade our defensive ability - especially on PK," said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini. "Blocking shots, just a net presence where it's not so easy to penetrate towards our net."

Sutton is exactly that type of player. Standing at 6'6" and weighing in at a hefty 245 pounds, the 36-year-old blueliner has made a career out of clearing the front of the net and denying opponents as they attempt to crash the crease.

"He's a big man. I don't want to see him up-ice as much as Ryan Whitney but I know in front of our net, we'll have a presence there," Tambellini offered.

Going the other way is Kurtis Foster, who was signed by the Oilers one year ago to the day. Foster was sad to not be a part of the rebuilding and improvement in Edmonton but looks forward to being in Anaheim.

"It’s an amazing feeling to know last year we were rebuilding," he said. "We went through a long process of making ourselves better throughout the year. It was tough losing as much as we did."

Sutton himself was pumped about the Oilers' direction - particularly with the other acquisitions on the day - and feels that he has a lot to offer a young Edmonton squad.

"I'm really excited. I had a tough year last year. For whatever reason, I didn't really fit into the plan here in Anaheim. It was a tough year on and off the ice," said Sutton of a season where had no goals and four assists in 39 games.

"I'm excited to have an opportunity to play with the Oilers and play my game. And hopefully be an important part of the team."

His 2010-11 season did not get off to a good start as he broke his thumb in the team's season opener causing him to miss the team's next 21 games. He looks forward to a fresh start.

"I think it'll be nice for me to have a chance to re-integrate myself with my role on a new team. I think management knows the player they're getting and that's going to help me fit in."

With his tall stature, Sutton plays a physical game but doesn't go out of the way for that highlight-reel hit.

"I try to be physical without running all around the ice. Try to make a good first pass. Penalty killing is a strength of mine. I think I'm a good shot blocker and a good shot from the point."

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