Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 21 for the New York Islanders in their history.
18 players have worn number 21 for the New York Islanders in their history. Ron Smith was the first to ever do it followed by Arnie Brown and Dave Pulkkinen in 1973. Some other notables were Andre St. Laurent, Robert Reichel, Mariusz Czerkawski, Kyle Okposo, and most recently Otto Koivula.
Kyle Okposo makes the most sense as an honorable mention today. Okposo was drafted by the Isles seventh overall in the 2006 draft, and he made his NHL debut in 2007-2008 as a 19-year-old.
Okposo’s best year with the Isles came in 2013-2014 he had 69 points (27 goals, 42 assists) in 71 games. That was the season he was infamously snubbed from Team USA. His final year with the Isles came in 2015-2016, before leaving for Buffalo in free agency.
Okposo finished his nine-year career on Long Island with 369 points in 529 games. While Okposo is a solid Islander, the obvious choice for today was Brent Sutter.
Sutter was drafted by the Isles in the first round of the 1980 NHL Draft. He played in just three games in the year he was drafted but became an immediate impact player after that winning two cups with the Isles.
After three straight years of 40-49 points, Sutter exploded in 1985 with a career-best 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists). While Sutter would never eclipse 100 points again in his career, he was usually good for 60 points in a season after that.
For the 1987-1988 season, Sutter was named captain of the team. He held that role up until his departure in the early 1991-1992 season. The Isles traded him along with Brad Lauer to Chicago and got Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas in return.
Over 12 years with the team, Sutter had 610 points in 694 games along with two Stanley Cup rings during his time on Long Island.
In his post-playing career, Sutter would coach the Devils for two seasons, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 leading them to the playoffs both years. He stepped down and then was quickly named the coach of the Flames by his brother, Darryl.
For three years in Calgary, Sutter didn’t make the playoffs and wasn’t offered a new contract after the 2011-2012 season. Sutter returned to the WHL where he works for the Red Deer Rebels in Alberta, Canada.