The (Clutter)Buck Stops Here

The Islanders went into draft day looking to improve on several fronts, knowing that the biggest thing they had going for them was their prospect depth. Well, to the surprise of very few, the Islanders and Nino Niederreiter parted ways today. The Isles sent “El Nino” to the Minnesota Wild for Cal Clutterbuck and Minnesota’s 3rd round pick. When people first learned of it, they were a little taken aback.

At the draft party I heard a lot different reactions:

  • “I hope this is a joke!”
  • “YES, great deal!”
  • “Very interesting, I am not sure to think about this, but I trust Garth Snow

So, as you can see people are not sure what to make of this because they don’t really know a whole lot about Cal Clutterbuck and Nino was a prized prospect. He was picked 5th overall, and these kind of picks are supposed to pan out. But, in hockey as in life, things that are supposed to happen don’t always do.

Cal Clutterbuck, 25, played in the Western Conference. Let’s be honest, most Eastern Conference fans aren’t really focused  on what goes on in the West. With most of the games, especially last year, being played against Eastern Conference opponents, we lose track of these kind of players.

Well, that begs the next question? Who on earth is Cal Clutterbuck?

He’s got a great name, but there is a tad more to his game than that. He is a hard hitting forward who has played close to 350 games in his NHL career after being drafted 72nd overall by the Wild in 2006. Clutterbuck is not someone you have to worry about with injury either. He has missed no more than 8 games in any season. Before a guy named Matt Martin came along and stole his crown, Clutterbuck was the NHL’s hit leader for the previous 3 seasons. But make no mistake, he is not Martin. He is a heavy hitter, but he has 20 goal potential. Before this previous season, he scored 15 and 19 goals in his last 2 NHL campaigns. He has 62 goals and 48 assists in his NHL career.

Clutterbuck said of the trade: “For me, it’s about being the same person every day. I’m going to help them succeed any way I can.” A good attitude to have and we are happy to have him on the Island.

The Nino Frustration Factor

It’s well known that Nino was unhappy. He had to go. Last season he, or “his agent” complained that he wanted to traded. After an unsuccessful debut in 2011-12,  in which he was pretty much relegated to the 4th line most of the season, Niederreiter lit it up in the AHL…in the first half. He really felt he had something to prove and he really went out in the first half of the year and showed that. But after he told the Islanders that he was frustrated about his lack of a call up, his numbers really fell off. That being said, he did wind up with 28 goals in 74 games. A solid total for sure. However, after alerting the Islanders that he would not be attending the prospect scrimmage this coming month, it was apparent that something had to be done.

The fact is that he is still 20 years old (he will be 21 in September). He does have a tremendous upside, and the Islanders of old would have rushed him up and kept him up here. Even during the TSN broadcast of the NHL Draft, they said “The Islanders have been criticized in the past for rushing prospects, but they did a great job in sending players like Griffin Reinhart back to Juniors.” If he is not willing to wait his turn and pay his dues, then what choice did Snow really have at this point? He may very well have had a different fate with this team if he really worked hard and did everything asked of him. But, in hockey as in life, if you don’t work hard and you cause problems, it’s going to catch up to you.

Unfortunately for Neiderreiter and the Islanders it was not a match made in heaven. He could turn out to be the next Todd Bertuzzi or Zdeno Chara; players the Islanders traded way too soon. Or, he could turn out to be the next Robert Nilsson or Ryan O’Marra (Ironically both were drafted #15, where the Isles drafted this year).

Only time will tell, but “In Garth We Trust”.

With the Number 15 Pick, The Islanders Select…

Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings

“The hardest shooting defenseman in the entire draft.” A few people were a little surprised that the Isles once again went for a defenseman, their 8th consecutive defensive draft pick, but Snow loves his rocket shot and his leadership capabilities. It doesn’t hurt that his father grew up an Islanders fan. Pulock said “I’m sure he’s smiling ear-to-ear, just like me. All of his life he’s been an Islanders fan”.

Snow stated “With the guidance from our coaching and development staff, we’re confident that Pulock will develop into yet another key piece of the core. Ryan’s leadership qualities, his steady defensive presence and his ability to jump into the play on offense will be an asset for our team for years to come.”

Upside

Aside from his 100+ MPH shot, Pulock does have lot of great attributes. He can play both sides of the puck.  He is a very good all around defenseman. He is not afraid to throw his body around and be physical. He is not even 19 yet, he won’t turn 19 until October. He is 6’1″, 210 lbs., so he’s not a small guy. He had 14 goals and 31 assists last year with the Brandon Wheat Kings, as the captain of the team.  He is projected to be a Power Play quarterback and people compare him to Dan Boyle. Not a bad guy to be compared to.

Downside

The team still needs solid offensive forces and with Nino gone, they need to add at least another solid forward to the coffers. Pulock does need to work on his skating, as that is not his greatest asset. But, then again, so did John Tavares and that has worked out well. He missed 11 games due to injury and played most of the year with a cast on his wrist.

Looks like a solid pick, and I look forward to watching him develop.

Where’s Our Goalie?

With the news that broke earlier about Cory Schneider being shipped to the New Jersey Devils for JUST the 9th selection, it looks like Roberto Luongo is out of the running to be between the pipes for the Islanders next season. It was a little surprising considering rumors have the Islanders offering Nino and the pick for Schneider, and yet they were turned down.

There is still plenty of time. I know people on social media are currently losing their minds that Snow didn’t trade Rick Dipietro for Sergei Bobrovsky and a 1st round pick, but it doesn’t work that way. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I believe in Garth Snow. Give him time. Luongo may not want to be the anointed one in Vancouver, and he still may want out. Jonas Hiller may be a cap casualty. Jaroslav Halak may also be out in St.  Louis. There are plenty of options. Let’s not give up the ship just yet. It’s June 30.

Eamon McAdam

That being said, the Islanders did finally break the defenseman string by addressing the lack of goalie depth in the system. They selected goaltender Eamon McAdam of the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) with the 70th pick overall (the pick they got from Minnesota in the Niederrieter trade). He represented the US in the 2012 World Junior A Challenge and compiled a 4-0 mark with a 2.18  GAA and a .927 save percentage. McAdam was ranked number three among goaltenders according to the ISS final rankings prior to the NHL Draft.

Here is what Islanders goalie coach Mike Dunham had to say about McAdam:

Eamon McAdam is a positional goalie with good patience and quick feet who does a good job finding pucks through traffic. McAdam has a knack of making the big save.

He is the first goalie the Isles have taken since taking Cody Rosen (now out of the organization) with their 7th round pick in 2010. With McAdam off to Penn State in the fall, the Islanders hold his rights for four years if he stays in school. This gives the 6’2″ netminder time to develop, and the Isles time to evaluate what they have, if anything.

The Other Draft Picks

Taylor Cammarata

It didn’t take long before the Isles were up again at number 76. With that pick, they selected McAdam’s teammate Taylor Cammarata.  In 59 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks, he scored 93 points; tallying 38 goals and 55 assists.  Obviously Cammarata can put the puck in the net, but there’s a big problem; er a small problem. He is only 5’7″ and 157 lbs. He struggles against physical play and does most of his scoring from the perimeter.

That being said, scouts were still very high Cammarata because he continues to prove the doubters wrong. He may be small, but the former Shattuck-St.Mary’s teammate of number 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon has a way of overcoming that and putting the puck in the net. He even received the 2013 Dave Tyler USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year Award.

If he can contribute at the NHL level remains to be seen. He just turned 18 and it at least a few years away from making it to the pros. He will begin his development at the former home of Kyle Okposo, University of Minnesota, in the fall.

When you take a look at this picture Cammarata looks like someone’s 14 year old brother! He is definitely young, but take a look at pictures of Derek Jeter when he was drafted. Humans have this interesting thing they do, called growing. It will be interesting to see if he can fill out a bit.

Stephon Williams

With the 106th overall pick the Islanders selected goaltender Stephon Williams from Minnesota State-Mankato. The 6’2″  netminder was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Rookie of the Year and Goaltending Champion this past March.

Amazingly, Williams also played for the Waterloo Black Hawks, and was teammates with the Islanders first 2 draft picks. But, the 20 year old Alaskan actually spent this past year in college. The freshman compiled a 21-12-2 record with a 2.00 GAA and .924 save percentage in 35 games. He also had 4 shutouts and was named to the 2012-13 WCHA 1st team.

Viktor Crus Rydberg

No, that’s Victor Cruz, not an Islanders draft pick. With the 136th selection, the Isles took center Viktor Crus Rydberg from Linkoping (Sweden). The 18 year old Swede is described by HockeysFuture.Com as having a “complete skill set”. He tallied 12 goals with 23 assists with the Linkoping Men’s U20 team in the Swedish Elite League.  Crus Rydberg was ranked 14th amongst International skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings.  He is said to have great lower body strength, and is tough to knock off the puck. But, he definitely struggled this past year. He is having problems living up to the praise that people heaped on him. His skills are up there with anyone in his age group in Sweden, but it seems to be a matter of putting it all together. His production has not been bad, just below what people expected of him.

It will be interesting to see what he can do over the next couple of years. At 5’11, 187 lbs he may put some meat on his frame and may even add an inch or two. This could be an intriguing pick to watch develop. He has the skills, let’s see what he can do with them.

Alan Quine

With the 166th overall pick the Islanders have selected Alan Quine from the from Belleville Bulls (OHL). Quine was originally a 3rd round selection, 85th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He did not sign and went back into the draft.

Quine is a 20 year old Center described as having great skating ability, and great speed. He had 67p (23g, 44a) in 54 GP between Belleville and Peterborough this past season. In the playoffs with Belleville he scored 15pts in 17GP.

Initially he was described as more of a checker, but he really has turned on the offense and now his offensive overachievements have people noticing.  He is 6′ tall and 181 lbs. If he wants to be an effective NHL player, he will have to put on a bit more muscle. But, given the fact that he is already 20 and was drafted once before, he could be someone to keep an eye one.

Kyle Burroughs

At number 196 , and their final selection,the Islanders selected defenseman Kyle Burroughs from the Regina Pats (WHL). Burroughs led defensemen on Regina with 33 pts (5g, 28a) in 70 games this past season. He has been described as a long shot to make it, but someone who has a ton of heart. Of course, anyone selected with the 196th pick is a long shot but heart is a great characteristic to have. He really came on in the 2nd half of the year and was ranked 133 among North American skaters by Central Scouting.  Burroughs just turned 18 and was named top defenseman on the Pats this year, despite a slow start to the season.

So, the Isles picked up 7 draft picks and a new, hard hitting, 25 year old forward. All in a day’s work for Garth Snow. Free agency starts Friday.

Until we meet again Isles fans.

-EB

 

Topics: Cal Clutterbuck, Eamon McAdam, NHL Draft, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Pulock

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