Just before the NHL traded deadline, Senators GM Bryan Murray brought in Matt Cullen from Carolina and Andy Sutton from the Islanders. Neither move brought a shudder from the rest of the NHL. There was no need in other Eastern Conference cities to make a move to match the bomb blast in Ottawa. Neither player created a feeling amongst other teams that they had to match nukes.
Both these players however are very important in subtle ways. Neither is a front line player. Neither is a game breaker. Neither is expected to come in and be “the man”. They are expected to fill a role.
Cullen is expected to be experienced and versatile. Play centre, wing and the point on the power play. He does 2 of the 3 very well. He does seem lost a bit when he plays the wing. Sutton is expected to play solid, boring defence in his own end. It is solid but not so boring when he uses that 6’6” frame to crush someone into the boards. Both have plenty of experience and most importantly the maturity to understand roles, situations and fitting in.
Sutton has walked into the lineup seamlessly and looks like he’s always been a Senator. Cullen has had a slower path to finding his spot and chemistry with his line mates, but as a smart veteran he will figure it out.
There have been other deadline deals that looked good at the start, but turned out to be busts. Many of those were not successful because the players being brought in were expected to play roles greater than they were able to. Murray and Clouston are not asking Cullen and Sutton to do anything they haven’t done regularly for the last 10 years.
These 2 players may quietly end up being 2 of the best deadline deals this franchise has ever made.
See you at the rink.