New York Islanders Add Much Needed Physical Presence With Cal Clutterbuck

By Matthew Solomon
Bruce Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few seasons, the New York Islanders have been around the middle of the pack in the NHL when it comes to hits.  Over the course of a full 82 game season, the Islanders average about 1,800 hits total as a team. That hits number looks like it might go up next year. Why you ask? That’s because of a draft day trade the Islanders pulled off.  On draft day the Islanders traded Nino Niederreiter to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for the 70th overall pick and forward Cal Clutterbuck. This deal turns out to be beneficial for both clubs, but from a physical standpoint, it’s a great move for the Islanders.

The Islanders gave up Niederreiter in the deal which isn’t too bad of a move. The Islanders selected Neiderreiter 5th overall in the 2010 draft, and he wasn’t able to really have an impact at the NHL level. Neiderreiter scored three points, a goal and two assists in 64 NHL games with the Islanders. While playing in Bridgeport of the AHL, he scored 50 points in 74 games. It’s obvious that Neiderreiter has a scoring touch, and that’s why the Islanders drafted him as high as they did in 2010. The only thing is, Neiderreiter never had an impact, or a steady impact, when he was in the Islanders lineup. By sending him to the Wild, it gives him a chance to play in a more free flowing system that may be just a tad more suited to his style of play.

The Islanders picking up Clutterbuck in the deal was a brilliant move. The first reason it’s brilliant is the underlying fact here. In 2007, Clutterbuck’s last year in Junior hockey, he played on the same team and same line as John Tavares in Oshawa. That same season, Clutterbuck scored 83 points, good enough for third on the team in scoring. And he has shown in the NHL that he can put up points. In his first four full seasons with the Wild, Clutterbuck scored at least 11 goals and 18 points in every year so he has a bit of a scoring touch.

The biggest reason Clutterbuck was added to the Islanders was the physical presence he brings to the game.  In his first three full seasons in the league, Clutterbuck led the league in hits with well over 300 a year. In 2010-11 he finished third in the league in hits, behind league leader, and now new teammate Matt Martin.  So it’s no secret that Clutterbuck can throw a hit and throw a lot of them.

With Clutterbuck and Martin playing on the same team together, it changes the whole dynamic of the Islanders from a physical standpoint. Both guys can hit, and they love to hit hard. With the two of them possibly teaming up together on the same line, it could be a possible reincarnation of the Bash Brothers. Clutterbuck’s addition to the lineup proves to me that the Islanders are making a big statement that they won’t have their forwards pushed around anymore. Picking up Clutterbuck at the draft was a smart move indeed.

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