From left, Islanders fourth-liners Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck...

From left, Islanders fourth-liners Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck at UBS Arena. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Instant reflection and analysis did not come easily three days after the Islanders’ season ended with a six-game first-round playoff elimination by the Hurricanes. But Matt Martin, while discussing the up-and-down season of his longtime fourth line with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, spoke optimistically of the future.

“I think the three of us take a lot of pride in what we do,” Martin said during the team’s breakup day on May 1, the last time anyone from the organization has spoken publicly. “In the playoffs, at times, we would have liked to have been better. But we gave it our all as well. We’ll regroup as individuals and as linemates and come back better next year.”

Other than Martin’s two-season sojourn to the Maple Leafs from 2016 to 2018, that has been the case since former coach Jack Capuano first put the trio together on Oct. 10, 2014. But with Clutterbuck, who will turn 36 in November, and the 34-year-old Martin both entering the final season of their contracts, there definitely seems to be an expiration date for the combination. Cizikas, the baby of the group at 32, has four seasons remaining on a six-year, $15 million deal that does not provide any trade or movement protection.

Or perhaps the trio’s expiration date already has been reached pending offseason changes.

For instance, Hudson Fasching, 27, has earned a full-time role and a new two-year, $1.55 million deal with the Islanders. But the energetic wing with limited offensive production probably is better suited to a fourth-line role rather than continuing to skate among the top nine forwards.

Super-secretive president/general manager Lou Lamoriello, whose original five-year deal is expiring but who will be offered a contract extension by ownership — if he hasn’t been already — has yet to address the media since the season ended.

So there is little to predict in terms of Lamoriello’s offseason strategy after the Islanders went 42-31-9 under first-year coach Lane Lambert and returned to the playoffs as a wild-card entry after a one-season absence.

Lamoriello has spent the previous four offseasons and five trade deadlines putting full faith into his veteran core, including Martin, Cizikas and Clutterbuck. At some point, though, the Islanders must invigorate their lineup with more youth.

“I think we do things pretty consistently,” Clutterbuck said of the line. “We go out there and I think you know what to expect. Sometimes it looks better than others, but I think our intentions are always to be very straightforward with the way we do things. We’ve been together a long time. For us it’s old hat.”

Injuries limited Clutterbuck to 49 games last season after a shoulder injury ended his previous season at 59 games. It cost him a chance to reach the 1,000-game milestone as he remains 18 games shy.

Both Martin and Cizikas dressed for 81 games.

Per naturalstattrick.com, the three had a below-average Corsi For percentage (which measures shot attempt differential) of 47.38 in their 48 regular-season games together. That dipped dramatically to 35.06 in the six playoff games.

But Clutterbuck expressed a strong confidence in both his ability and his line’s to remain an effective unit.

“That’s just up to us,” he said. “I don’t feel any different than I have. There’s been some periods of time with injuries and those are difficult to deal with, but it doesn’t really change how I feel when I’m out there or how I feel I can be effective. I don’t feel like the three of us are less effective because of it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be the first to know when the time for being effective has passed me.”

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