In the 59 games he was healthy enough to play last season, defenseman Brendan Witt probably ranked as the Islanders' most valuable player. General manager Garth Snow rewarded Witt for his toughness and experience with a two-year contract extension worth $6 million, the team announced last night.
The new deal means Witt will be an Islander through the 2010-11 season. His current contract calls for him to make $3 million this season. The upgrade in the next two seasons will put Witt on a par with Andy Sutton as the second-highest paid defenseman on the team behind free-agent acquisition Mark Streit, whose deal pays him an average of $4.1 million to quarterback the power play.
Witt missed the final 11 games of the season with a sprained medial collateral ligament that bothered him throughout the season. When he was on the ice, Witt always was matched against the opponents' top line, and he brought a snarl to the chore.
The 33-year-old defensive defenseman isn't exactly part of the Isles' youth movement, but his leadership in his role as alternate captain is important. Witt also was the Islanders' Masterton Trophy nominee last season for his perseverance and dedication to hockey, and he was active in charitable efforts, regularly hosting children battling cancer at Islanders games.