Like last year, the New York Islanders have a couple of key decisions to make regarding their own players becoming unrestricted free agents. Both Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Greiss become UFA’s on July 1st. The Islanders need to keep Clutterbuck.
Cal Brings A Lot to the Table
While Cal Clutterbuck is a second-tier player for the New York Islanders he brings a lot to the table. Leadership, physicality, energy, secondary scoring, penalty killing, scoring big goals, a two-way game, and drawing penalties are just some of the things he does well.
When you add up all of Clutterbuck’s attributes one realizes he is a very valuable player. Yes, the Islanders have a wave of talented forwards coming to the Isles in the near future. Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal made the Islanders out of training camp. Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle are in Bridgeport and will be in the NHL before you know it. Don’t forget 2016 first round pick Kiefer Bellows could be part of the Islanders as soon as next year.
But with all these kids coming it’s even more of a reason for Clutterbuck to be part of the Isles the next few years. Odds are Josh Bailey, Jason Chimera, and Nikolay Kulemin will all be gone following the 2017-18 season.
What will a new contract look like for the Ontario native? He is currently on the last year of a four-year deal that has an annually cap hit of $2.75 million. At the minimum to bring back the soon to be 29-year old right winger it will take another four-year deal with an annual value of $4 million.
If a four-year $16 million dollar deal can be worked out, that is a contract Garth Snow needs to sign off on. No reason to think Clutterbuck can’t continue to play at his level through the age of 33.
The situation could get sticky of Clutterbuck wants a five-year deal. If that happens the Islanders would be wise to go a little bit higher on the annual value ($4.25 million) and keep the term at four years.
Normally a smart move for a hockey organization is to sign a pending UFA the year before he hits the free agent market. Reason being while the player is closing in on free agency, he still has one season left to play. There are always the risk of injury or just having a sub-par season.
If a player likes where he is at, he would be very open to signing an extension with a year to go on his deal. So the Islanders should sign Clutterbuck today right? Not exactly.
You have to remember the expansion draft is this June. The Islanders are already in a bit of a pickle regarding expansion. The reason being, the Islanders have to protect four defensemen (Boychuk – no move clause, Leddy, Hamonic, & Pulock) which means they will only be able to protect four forwards.
If the Islanders sign Clutterbuck to an extension now, he will not be protected come June in expansion and very well could get gobbled up by George McPhee and the Las Vegas franchise.
Vegas could still select Clutterbuck who will be two weeks away from an unrestricted free agency at that point, but that would be highly unlikely. Like other teams in this position the Islanders and Clutterbuck could come to a handshake agreement now and announce it on July 1st.
"New York Islanders: A Few Jaroslav Halak Ideas"
Anyway you slice it Clutterbuck must be part of the New York Islanders the next few years.