After making the trade for him on draft day, the New York Islanders have locked up forward Cal Clutterbuck to a new deal. The hard-hitting right winger has been signed to a four-year deal worth $11 million total over the length of the deal, an average of $2.75 million per season. The total price per season is a tad bit steep, considering what Clutterbuck has made in past seasons. During his time with the Minnesota Wild, Clutterbuck averaged about $1 million to $1.7 million per year. Now his salary has doubled, and its a tad much for my taste. In the end game though, the contract may actually be worth it.
Think about it this way: Clutterbuck is just 25 years old and has put up some decent offensive numbers in the NHL. During his 346-game career, Clutterbuck recorded 110 points — 62 goals and 48 assists. There is a slight offensive upside to Clutterbuck, but since his days in Junior hockey, he hasn’t put those kind of offensive numbers up in the big leagues. The reason, I feel at least, this is a great signing is because of the physical presences he brings to the Islanders’ lineup. Clutterbuck led the NHL in hits for three consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2011, setting a then-NHL record with 356 hits during the 2008-09 campaign. The record has since been broken by current teammate Matt Martin. Having two of the better open ice hitters in the game in the same lineup could make things interesting this season for Islanders opponents.
The team already plays in a tough Eastern Conference, and it has happened in the past where the Islanders’ star players have been getting pushed around quite a bit during the course of games. By having Clutterbuck and Martin in the lineup for the next few seasons, it pretty much ensures, to a certain degree, a level of protection for the Islanders’ star players. Having Martin in the lineup is good, but it wasn’t enough I felt. By adding Clutterbuck to a long deal, it pretty much guarantees that there will be a little more protection in the lineup.
There is still a little more work to be done by Islanders GM Garth Snow. There are two more restricted free agents in the Islanders’ lineup Snow would want to resign: forward Josh Bailey and defenseman Thomas Hickey. What Snow plans to do with the contracts of these guys is still undetermined. As for Clutterbuck, the Islanders now have plenty of wingers to work with going into training camp at the end of the summer. Free agency still has a lot of time left on it, so who knows what else the Islanders will do between now and the start of next season. The signing of Clutterbuck was a step in the right direction.