New York Islanders: Clutterbuck contract a head-scratcher
Nov 7, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Barclays Center. Clutterbuck scored the game-winning goal. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cal Clutterbuck has never been worth such big money. So why did the New York Islanders just give him it?

What in the bloody hell.

Cal Clutterbuck has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Islanders, despite his status as a fourth-line winger.

Clutterbuck, 29, was traded for Niño Niederreiter in ’13. He tallied 23 points (15 goals, 8 assists) in 77 games last season.

Elliott Friedman of TSN reports that Clutterbuck’s deal has an AAV of $3.5 million. The relatively huge price tag — coupled with Casey Cizikas’ already huge price tag — makes this a questionable signing.

On the flip side, the fourth line is the Isles’ identity. The loss of Matt Martin has plagued the team so far this season, so locking Clutterbuck, an impending free agent, up for multiple seasons should help keep the band together.

Clutterbuck has made his fortune by playing a physical brand of hockey. He’s consistently among the league’s leaders in hits, and is never afraid to protect his teammates.

He’s also sound in his own zone and an above-average penalty killer. Most importantly, he’s a leader, as evidenced by his status as an alternate captain.

That being said, it’s a peculiar move considering that guys like Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas are needed to complete the puzzle, not start it. The Isles have top-6 problems, so committing seven million dollars to a pair of fourth-liners is … Weird?

Here’s the other problem: Clutterbuck has never been worth $3.5 million against the salary cap, so to argue that he’s suddenly worth that money is … Also weird?

Hopefully, Garth Snow has crunched the numbers and made the right decision. Otherwise, this move will be chastised for years to come.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.