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Will Clutterbuck reunite with his former OHL linemate on the Islanders top line?
Cal Clutterbuck likely isn't the first name that comes to mind when you are putting together your list of fantasy hockey sleepers for 2013-14. However, he should be somewhere on your list.
Let's take a look at a few reasons as to why:
Reason #1 - Chemistry with Tavares
Clutterbuck spent three seasons in the OHL playing for the Oshawa Generals. In his final two seasons there, John Tavares was a teammate (and frequent linemate) of his. It would be grasping at straws to project a big breakout season from Clutterbuck based on chemistry with a linemate over six years ago (and in a different league, no less), but don’t discount the familiarity that the two players have with each other.
In Clutterbuck’s final year with Tavares, he had 89 points in 65 games. Obviously he owes a lot of that production to his linemate, but it does show that he can produce points in the right situation. The Islanders have more talented players in the mix for the Parenteau/Boyes vacancy on line one, but do they have a better fit?
Kyle Okposo has been tried there with minimal success. PM Bouchard is a dazzling playmaker and makes a lot of sense "if" he can stay healthy, but that is a significant "if." Ryan Strome may move to the wing in order to get some more ice time, but is he ready for top line duty at the NHL level? Probably not.
And even if Clutterbuck isn't on line one, he will get to play with some good players. Bailey, Nielsen, Cizikas, Strome, and so on. The Islanders have a lot of talent up front and should be able to put together three solid scoring units. He wasn't exactly playing with stars in his final season in Minnesota (from Frozen Pool):
|53.14%||EV||96 BOUCHARD,PIERRE-MARC - 21 BRODZIAK,KYLE - 22 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL|
|6.92%||EV||22 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL - 17 MITCHELL,TORREY - 27 RUPP,MICHAEL|
|6.29%||EV||22 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL - 17 MITCHELL,TORREY - 19 VEILLEUX,STEPHANE|
|5.35%||SH||21 BRODZIAK,KYLE - 22 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL|
|5.03%||EV||22 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL - 7 CULLEN,MATT - 17 MITCHELL,TORREY|
Reason #2 - Playing style
Clutterbuck loves to hit. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the Islanders now have the two best hitting forwards in hockey on their roster (the other being Matt Martin). Clutterbuck is a monster in fantasy leagues that count hits, and if he can get his production back up into the 12-18 goal range, his value will only be that much higher.
Over the last three seasons, Martin and Clutterbuck have finished 1st and 10th, 1st and 3rd, and 4th and 1st in hits among all NHL players, respectively.
Clutterbuck probably won't stick on a line with Tavares all season. But even if he ends up in a depth role, the Islanders will give him the green light to play his game. Imagine if he and Martin end up on the same line? Can you say "Bash Brothers?"
Reason #3 - More ice time
2013 was a disappointing one for Clutterbuck from an offensive perspective. After scoring at least 10 goals in four consecutive seasons with the Wild, Clutterbuck found the back of the net only four times in 42 games. Why? A lack of ice time, for one.
In 2010-11, Clutterbuck scored 19 goals and averaged 15:51 per game. He also had 191 shots on goal. In 2011-12, Clutterbuck scored 15 goals, had 161 shots on goal, and averaged 16:21 per contest. However, this past season, he averaged only 13:44 of ice time per game and scored on only 4.8% of his shots (one of the lowest totals among everyday NHL forwards). Minnesota brought in a few wingers that took away a few minutes from Clutterbuck, and his numbers suffered. Bad luck also reared its ugly head.
The Islanders didn’t acquire Clutterbuck to be a goal scorer, but they will definitely put him in a position where he will once again be in the 15-17 minute-a-night range. And with more ice time comes more opportunity to find the back of the net. And he should see more than the 0:03 of PP time he averaged per game in Minnesota last year.
There will be plenty more of sleepers (just like Clutterbuck) in the 2013-14 DobberHockey Fantasy Guide, released on August 1st.
The beauty of an online (PDF) release, and what separates us from the competition, is that we are able to update the DobberHockey Guide throughout the rest of the summer and right up to puck drop in early October.
Other guides released in magazine format have to be written and submitted for publishing in late June with quick updates on free agency in early July.
As we all know, a lot can still happen in August and September. How about a strong training camp from a bubble player or a rookie? How about a late summer trade or signing?
The fantasy impact(s) of these moves can be significant, and we will have you covered.
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