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Clutterbuck Signs Extension with Isles; Jooris Waived by Rangers; Flyers and Jackets Goin’ Streaking

Cal Clutterbuck (

Cal Clutterbuck (


On Friday, the New York Islanders announced that an agreement to extend Cal Clutterbuck’s contract has been reached.  The deal is reportedly worth $17.5 million over the course of the next five seasons with an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.  Clutterbuck was acquired by the Isles from the Minnesota Wild in a deal on draft day 2013 that sent Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota.  Isles also received the 70th overall pick (third round) in the trade.

Am I missing something here?  Let me check my list: Clutterbuck just turned 29 last month which means he will be 34 years old when this extension expires in 2023.  We will see the downhill years under this extension.  Clutterbuck has just nine points in 25 games this season going into Tuesday night’s re-match against the Washington Capitals.  If his pace continues, he’ll be lucky to reach 30 points.  Clutterbuck is a fan-favorite (yeah, so was Matt Martin).  Clutterbuck is a heart-and-soul type player every game.  He is also used in special teams situations.  But so far this season, he is averaging 15:23 time-on-ice, playing mostly on the fourth line with a few games appearing on different lines.  The NHL has its role players – guys who don’t get top-six minutes; guys who kill off penalties; guys who throw the body around.  Cal is that guy.  But is he worth $3.5 million a year?  Is his leadership role on the team worth that much?  This deal makes Tanner Glass’ contract with the Rangers look reasonable (well, not really – I take that back).

I have touted Garth Snow as being one of the best General Managers in hockey simply for how he built the franchise from basically nothing back to a playoff contending team the past few seasons.  But this season, my faith in him is slowly waning.  This started when he waived P.A. Parenteau before the season even began.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Parenteau isn’t exactly having a career-year himself with the Devils, having only eleven points on the season (he did have a three-game point streak going before Antti Raanta spoiled the fun Sunday night).  But for $1.33 million against the salary cap, you really can’t ask for much more than that.  So after waiving Parenteau, and awarding Clutterbuck five years at $3.5 million a year, I’m not exactly calling for Snow’s job, but I’m certainly curious to say the least.  Nevertheless, Snow has made a decision to keep Clutterbuck around.  John Tavares’ current deal is up in the summer of 2018.  Signing Clutterbuck long-term now will certainly tighten the handcuffs around Snow when it comes time to negotiating JT’s deal.  Then again, every player Snow signs right now will hurt, unless some bigger contracts are acquired by the new Las Vegas franchise, the Golden Knights (for now?).

On Saturday, the New York Rangers waived forward Josh Jooris.  Jooris appeared in twelve games this season for the Rangers, scoring just one goal and one assist.  This represents a good problem for the Rangers; the Rangers have great depth, despite the absence of Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash, Pavel Buchnevich, and Matt Puempel.  The Blueshirts currently lead the NHL with 3.5 goals per game.  Their powerplay is ranked fifth in the league with a success rate of 22.6%.  On the other end of the ice, the Rangers rank sixth in goals against with 2.3 per game, and kill off penalties fourth best at a rate of 85.9%.  This is also to the credit of Antti Raanta who has been absolutely lights out as of late, earning him the NHL’s second star of the week, and rightfully so.

On Sunday, Jooris was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes, a team desperately struggling to get going.  Perhaps Jooris and the ‘Yotes will get going together, but I’m not holding my breath.

The Philadelphia Flyers are absolutely scorching right now, winning the last nine games in a row.  Their last loss was the day after Thanksgiving against the Rangers in Philly.  Jakub Voracek was named the NHL’s first star of the week with nine points in four games.  He started off the week by scoring the game-winning goal against the Florida Panthers on December 6.  The next two contests, Voracek had a goal and three assists, each against the Edmonton Oilers and the Dallas Stars.  He did not register a point in Sunday’s 1-0 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings.  But Brayden Schenn did.  In fact, Schenn scored the OT-winning goal, and registered a hat-trick against the Stars in the previous game.  All three of Schenn’s goals against the Stars came on the power play.  The Flyers power play currently sits second in the NHL with a conversion rate of 24.1%.

The best current power play in the league is the Columbus Blue Jackets’.  Like the Flyers, the Blue Jackets are also streaking, earning at least a point in their last eight games.  They have won their last six contests, including a blowout 6-2 win over the Isles Saturday night.  Although Sam Gagner did not appear on the score sheet Saturday, which included a four-goal party by the Jackets in the third period, Gagner was named the NHL’s third star of the week with three goals and three assists in three games (are you seeing a pattern here, as well?).  Maybe Gagner should ask Seth Jones to swap jersey numbers…

The Blue Jackets are sitting comfortably in a wild card spot with five games in-hand and one point behind the Flyers, who are currently third in the Metropolitan Division.  At 17-5-4 this season, the Jackets are certainly shocking the NHL with such outstanding play thus far.  What’s most shocking is the team is coached by the infamous John Tortorella.  “Torts” was highly criticized before being let go as Rangers’ head coach following the 2013 season.  The Vancouver Canucks were heavily criticized after essentially swapping Alain Vigneault with the Rangers.  The Columbus Blue Jackets were severely pitied after hiring Torts.  And Americans were disappointed, to say the least, when Torts was named head coach of Team USA at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.  Their discontent was exacerbated by USA’s poor performance in the tournament.  But this season, the Blue Jackets are anything but disappointing to Columbus fans.  Has Torts finally caught up with the times and the changing nature of the game of hockey?  Columbus ranks third in goals per game and goals against per game.  As mentioned before, they rank first in the powerplay, and yet 17th on the kill.  Has Torts changed his ways and modernized his approach behind the bench?  I’d like to believe he’s come around.  But I don’t think so.  He still has a short fuse in pressers, and I’m sure he’s not Mr. Nice Guy to his players all of a sudden.

So what could it be?  Most of the credit goes to Blue Jackets’ GM, Jarmo Kekäläinen (alright, we’re just going to refer to him as “JK”).  JK made the best of the draft since being hired in 2013 with defenseman Zach Werenski and forward Alexander Wennberg; signing Brandon Saad in the summer of 2015; and trading Ryan Johansen to the Predators in exchange for Seth Jones halfway through the season last year.  JK was hired by Columbus President John Davidson, after having worked with JD in St. Louis building that core team as well.

But while JK deserves a lot of the credit, veteran forward Cam Atkinson has been stellar so far this season leading the team with 27 points, along with captain Nick Foligno who has contributed 22 points and leads all Columbus forwards with average time on ice.  Furthermore, Sergei Bobrovsky is 16-5-2 with a GAA of 1.92, a save percentage of .932, and three shutouts so far – outstanding!

Let me reiterate: I’d love to give Torts credit and congratulate him for turning things around.  The problem is, I just don’t think he’s the reason the Jackets are performing this well.  And quite frankly, we’re only about one-third through this season.  There is still plenty of time for the Blue Jackets to falter.  Then again, they may surprise us all with a trip to the postseason, something the franchise has done only twice since its inception in 2000.  So while this season has been great for Columbus thus far, there’s still a lot of hockey left to play.

Finally, I would be remiss if I neglected Jaromir Jagr-Watch.  Jagr currently has 1,883 points in his career in the NHL.  The magic numbers for JJ are: four to tie Mark Messier; and five more points to become second-overall in points scored all-time.  With nine games left in the month of December for the Panthers, it is possible the 44-year old winger celebrates this incredible milestone while ringing in the New Year!  Stay tuned…

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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