COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cal Clutterbuck didn’t need the Islanders’ recent hot stretch to know he wanted to commit to the organization long term.
“I believe in this group, I always have,” Clutterbuck told Newsday on Friday a few hours after signing a five-year extension worth $3.5 million per year. “I was ready to [sign] at the start of the year, too. There isn’t much that would have changed my mind.”
The 29-year-old wing has become a fan favorite and a part of the team’s core in his three-plus seasons with the Islanders after being acquired from the Wild for Nino Niederreiter at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Jack Capuano put Clutterbuck with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin in the 2014-15 season and that fourth line garnered notice around the league with its physical, energetic style. Clutterbuck scored 15 goals last season, providing a bit of offense to go with the hits.
Cizikas signed his own five-year deal, worth $3.35 million per year, in June. In July, Martin departed in free agency along with longtime Islanders Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, altering the makeup of the team significantly.
“We were a group that hadn’t had those kinds of personnel changes before,” said Clutterbuck, who was added to the leadership group in a more formal way this season as an alternate captain. “I think I knew it was going to take some time.”
Clutterbuck has two goals and seven assists this season. Like the team, he’s needed some time to adjust to the new makeup of the squad; he and Cizikas have seemed to jell with Anders Lee on their left. Lee scored the game-winner in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over the Blues, extending the Isles’ point streak to six games (5-0-1).
Clutterbuck has been a critic of the Isles’ arena change, but the commute to Brooklyn was not a factor in his decision.
“Last season it just became the new normal,” he said. “I’ve changed teams before and it’s not always the easiest, especially on your family. Now my wife and my kids can feel settled, put some roots down in New York, and that goes a long way.”