It’s not really fair to put Cal Clutterbuck here. It’s not his faults that the Minnesota Wild, and then the New York Islanders, felt the need to make his “hit” numbers seem like something out of a Suess book. But it is his fault that he looks like a Colin Farrell mugshot, so we’ll get on his case for that.
For a long time, Clutterbuck was actually the kind of fourth-liner you’d want. Yes, he was nuts and yes, occasionally he would go overboard and do something truly stupid. But he could really skate, he gave you 10+ goals per season and could kill some penalties for you. He was what Joel Quenneville thinks Lance Bouma is.
But as we all saw, and every broadcast couldn’t wait to mention because they’ve all been beaten about the head with lawn equipment, the Islanders seriously bloated his hit totals. If you go on NHL.com and look at the past 10 years, the top three hit totals for a season belong to Matt Martin. Matt Martin could never move, so how he was averaging over four hits per game is Bermuda Triangle shit. Clutterbuck has seasons 6-10, which covers both Minnesota and New York. The only interloper in the top 10 is Mark Borowiecki from Ottawa last year, further proving Guy Boucher’s genius, of course.
No question Clutterbuck is a physical player, though he’s slowing down now and even the Islanders staff can’t make up hits for him to make him seem more active than he is. But he’s still chipping in goals, with eight so far this year from the fourth line. He’s also doing that while starting 70% of his shifts in the defensive zone, the third year in a row he’s started over 60% in his own zone.
Considering that’s where he’s always played, isn’t his goal-production and penalty killing enough? Do we really need to highlight his contributions when his team doesn’t have the puck to make it seem like he’s a worthwhile player?
Game #46 Preview