It's long overdue for this NY Islanders veteran to win the Bob Nystrom Award

Matt Martin has won the award six times, Casey Cizikas has done it twice, but not all members of the Identity Line have been recognized with this honor
The Bob Nystrom Award
The Bob Nystrom Award / nyislanders

There was early season hope that Zach Parise would return to Long Island for a third season with the New York Islanders, but with the team's playoff chances anything but certain in January; he chose to chase a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and is currently playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Parise's departure meant there would be a different, although perhaps not new, recipient of the Bob Nystrom Award this season, and we know just the Islander that deserves it.

Voting is now open for the award that Parise won after each of his two seasons with the Isles. There are four players from this past season's team that have already won the award. That list includes JG Pageau (2021), Casey Cizikas (2018, 2019), Anders Lee (2017), and Matt Martin (2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20). Martin is the only player in franchise history to win the trophy inspired by "Mr. Islander" more than three times. Former center Claude LaPointe is the only other to win it three times.

According to the team website, "The Bob Nystrom Award was created in 1991 to recognize an Islanders player who exemplifies leadership, hustle, and dedication. These were the same ideals that former Islanders Hall of Fame winger Bob Nystrom represented every time he stepped on the ice or in the community. The honor is dedicated to "Mr. Islander" for everything he did and continues to do for the Islanders organization."

This year's winner should be someone new, but someone absolutely not new to the Islanders fanbase. The winner of the 2023-24 Bob Nystrom Award should be Cal Clutterbuck.

Cal Clutterbuck
Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

When scrolling through the names of past winners, it was somewhat surprising that Clutterbuck hadn't won it since arriving on Long Island for the 2013-14 season. If we had a list of the voting totals each season, I'm fairly certain he'd always be among the top vote-getters, but he hasn't been able to top his teammates, and, in most cases, that meant his linemates Matt Martin or Casey Cizikas.

What's interesting about that is that the award is partly about leadership, and Clutterbuck has worn an "A" for years while most of the winners have not. If there was ever a year he deserves recognition for his hustle and dedication, it's this one after he reached the 1,000 games milestone and became the first player in NHL history to record 4,000 hits in a career. More impressive than that was that at 36, he played in all 82 games this season, proving that he can be durable at this stage in his career.

The future is uncertain for Clutterbuck as he is an unrestricted free agent this summer, the first time he hasn't had a contract extension done with the team at season's end. Most feel that it's time for the organization to move on from him and Martin, also a UFA, and start to reshape the bottom six of the roster, though each player made it clear they intend to play somewhere next year.

If this was Clutterbuck's last season with the team, naming him the winner of this year's Bob Nystrom Award would be a fitting end to his Islanders' career, one in which he has exemplified all the attributes the award was meant to recognize.