The Islanders learned Saturday that they will be without Cal Clutterbuck for an extended period. So top prospect Aatu Raty is getting a second chance to stick long-term in the lineup.
“I’ve just got to focus on the games and try to be as good as I can in practice,” said Raty, recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport for Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes at UBS Arena.
Clutterbuck exited Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime loss in Buffalo at 18:03 of the second period after appearing to injure his right hand when slashed. The Islanders said Clutterbuck, who also missed eight games from Dec. 17-Jan. 3 with a suspected right-hand injury, will be out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Clutterbuck already had missed 13 games over five stretches before Saturday. Last season, he played 59 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
“It’s been unfortunate for him this year,” longtime linemate Casey Cizikas said. “It’s never easy. I’ve been in that spot before where you just can’t seem to find a break and it seems like one thing after another keeps happening to you.”
Raty, the 52nd overall pick in 2021, had two goals in his first seven NHL games from Dec. 23-Jan. 6 before being sent back to Bridgeport.
“The game going both ways that fast, my brain was not quite ready for it,” said Raty, who logged 8:50 with no shots on Saturday. “After the first couple of games, I got more back to my game.”
He centered Matt Martin and Ross Johnston on the fourth line. Coach Lane Lambert said the “ultimate objective” is to develop Raty into a top-six forward.
If Raty, 20, plays 10 NHL games, this season will count toward his three-year, $2.8 million entry-level deal.
“I want to play as many games as I can,” Raty said. “That’s not really on my mind.”