New York Islanders Fourth Line Are Relatively Bad

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Casey Cizikas
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Casey Cizikas /

The New York Islanders fourth line gets a lot of hate for how much it’s being paid. But how do they rank relative to the rest of the NHL?

With Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas on the New York Islanders fourth line, the Isles are paying $6.85 million per year. And they have to do that for the next four years, at least. They got an extra year of Cal Clutterbuck’s $3.5 million salary.

So the question is: are they worth it? Are they worth the money the Islanders pay these players?

Generally, your fourth line players aren’t big earners. They don’t chew up a ton of your cap space. That money is reserved for star players. Players that can make an impact over 20+ minutes a night. Not on guys who might play double-digit minutes.

The Islanders have signed off on just under 10% of their payroll on two fourth line players. Has been money well spent?

How They Rank

Before I start, the fourth line I have is Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Ross Johnston. I didn’t want to include Nikolai Kulemin because he sat out most of the year, and likely won’t be here next season.

First is where do the Islanders fourth line rank in terms of cost? We assume they’re one of the highest paid. How about third? Both the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to Ryan Callahan‘s $5.8 million cap hit and the Philadelphia Flyers with Jori Lethera and Matt Read making $4.7 million and $3.625 million respectively have a higher pay role.

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Most of the league pays about $3.9 million on their fourth line. The New York Islanders pay almost double that at $7.5 million. Typically you get what you pay for in the NHL. Typically.

So if the New York Islanders are going to willingly pay top dollar to the bottom of the roster, they must be getting good production out of them.

Based on points per 60 and Corsi-for that isn’t the case. At all.

To be fair, the Islanders fourth line puts up OK production. Their points per 60 rank tenth in the NHL with an average of 1.33. Although, with 1.62 points per 60, Ross Johnston bumps that number up considerably.

And then comes their Corsi. The measure of how well a player does at controlling the rate of play. And the Islanders fourth line ranks dead last. That’s right, 31 out of 31 with a 41.623%, the next worst is the Caps fourth line with a 43.64 percent Corsi-For.

We know Cizikas and Clutterbuck aren’t Barzal and Eberle, but they are consistently getting hemmed into their own zone. Maybe some of that has to do with the ~75% defensive zone starts both Cal and Casey got this season.

We knew that the New York Islanders were overpaying for their fourth line, but secretly we all hoped that they could bring something.

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Next: What Could Isles Do To Win Cup?

Look it’s not to say that the team shouldn’t spend on the fourth line and just put anyone out there. But paying what they’re paying is outrageous.

Consider that the Winnipeg Jets fourth line ranks 21st in cost, fourth in production per 60 and second in CF. Or Chicago, whose fourth line is 26th in cost, and fifth in both production and CF. Getting a productive fourth line doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.