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Does Cal Clutterbuck make sense for Avs?

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Happy Sunday to all. 55 degrees, and not a cloud in the blue sky here in Denver. I have windows open here as I type, sipping Dunkin’ coffee. Let’s dive into the question: does Cal Clutterbuck make sense for the Avs as a deadline pickup?

Joe Sakic was at an Islanders-Canadiens game a week ago, and my colleague at NYI Hockey Now, Stefen Rosner, reported that Clutterbuck was one guy he was seriously checking out.

It’s funny, 11 years ago (wait, what?) I wrote a feature on Clutterbuck for the Sports Illustrated website that got me a lot of blowback from Minnesota Wild fans for the slight angle of “Are his hit numbers inflated?” That story is here (for some reason, the SI website now clips off the first sentence of archive stories, so my lead can’t be read).

Guess who is second in the NHL in hits right now? Yes, Cal Clutterbuck. He’s been credited with 194 hits in 48 games for the Islanders. Nobody on the Avalanche is in the top 25 in hits. Erik Johnson leads the team with 119.

Now, a couple things: Teams that play with the puck all the time like the Avalanche are always going to be lower in hits. If you don’t have the puck, you’re trying to hit others to get the puck, right? The Avs actually have been credited with 1,103 hits, ahead of some mediocre teams such as Buffalo (759) and New Jersey (975) and Detroit (902).

The Avs have been a more physical team than last year. Through the first 56 games last season, the Avs had 926 hits, so they’re already well ahead of that number in three fewer games right now. So, why get a 34-year-old who has 11 points (five goals) in 48 games, a minus-6, a 39.1 Corsi at even strength (that’s not good) and a $3.5 million cap hit?

Well, good question.

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Clutterbuck, though, is still known as a very good penalty killer. The Avs currently are 21st in the league in PK percentage (77.6). That’s still a team weakness. The Avs had an 83.1 PK percentage last year, seventh-best in the league. The Islanders currently are ninth in the league in PK (82.1) and Clutterbuck is a top PK guy for them.

So, that’s probably a strong reason why Sakic may have been checking him out. (As you will see if you clicked on that SI story, Sakic is Clutterbuck’s idol).

Clutterbuck has some pretty good playoff experience, and brings that “veteran presence”, etc. etc. I asked a couple people whose opinions I value, who see Clutterbuck and the Islanders play a lot, and the scouting report I got is that Clutterbuck still tries to hit everything that moves and is a smart PK guy who still plays with a lot of, uh, cojones.

We have just a little over three weeks to go ’til the NHL trade deadline. There’s a lot of debate about the Avs’ bottom two lines, whether they’re good enough for a long playoff run. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a healthy scratch Friday night. Tyson Jost was a healthy scratch last night. Darren Helm, Kurtis MacDermid, Logan O’Connor, Alex Newhook, J.T. Compher – these are the current bottom-six guys. Are they good enough? Or, does Sakic need to add another piece in there, make a change, with a guy like Clutterbuck?

Let’s hear what you think, Avs fans.

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Matt Zmuda

I think he would fit in well with this group and fills some voids the team has. Though I still would like to see the Avs pick up a top 6 type player for insurance. Someone will get hurt down the stretch. It’s the luck we have.

Catatafish

Damn AD that SI article was awesome! I had forgot about that ”C for selfish” quote lol. Priceless.

Have to admit that I have not paid any attention to Clutterbuck this season so hard to say about getting him for the ride. For the bottom six I would love to see someone like Artturi Lehkonen of Joel Armia both fantastic hard working guys with skill to step up for important points to ad to their defensive game. Good guys too that wouldn’t mess up the room.

dk

I like Lehkonen too. He seems to have a reputation of being a pain in the ass to play against. Maybe we can have him as part of package that includes Jeff Petry?

Catatafish

That could be a sweet pair to ad but probably pretty pricey as well. From what I’ve read think there are a few teams after Lehkonen.

dk

Petry is probably wishful thinking, I know. I guess I could settle for Lehkonen/Chiarot…

Bob Neal

I wonder if Joe is looking at Mayberry to go with Cal. I don’t care who the D-man is as long as they are large and mobile whether it be Mayberry, Chara, or Chiarot, Cal definitely will be a big adder to the bottom six group.

Catatafish

Chara would definitely bring an interesting presence to the back end. And the shot obviously.
One more thing about Lehkonen, he’d be RFA after the season so he’d be more than a rental. Since the Avs might lose the entire second line after this season.

dk

I’m sure you meant Scott Mayfield, but I agree.

ricoflashback

Lehkonen is a nice player but no where near the size of Clutterbuck. And his price would be much higher. I think you could plug in Clutterbuck in place of Aube-Kubel and instantly add more physicality and grit to this Avs team. Clutterbuck checks with “bad intentions.” My type of player.

dk

Keep NAK, trim off Jost and replace him with Clutterbuck.

But imagine a fourth line with Clutterbuck, Aube-Kubel, and MacDermid. I have no idea who’d center, but would I care?

Peter Martin

his cap hit to the new team (Avs) is only a prorated amt (900k) of the 182 game salary. I think the team could benefit from a tough guy like him. Kolesar & McNabb will have their hands full of MacDermid & Buck.

John Mauss

Haven’t seen much of C’buck lately due to COVID scheduling but always liked him. I firmly believe the Av’s most pressing need is another D’man. Those who play the injury card as an argument for another top 6 forward should agree that the injury bug is statistically as likely to hit one of the 6 defensemen as it is one of the top six forwards. I say go for him. Thanks for another good article, Adrain.

dk

I certainly feel he’s a much better choice than Giroux. Giroux can definitely run his mouth as well as Clutterbuck, but he has nowhere near the physical game. I would say that Clutterbuck fits our needs where Giroux does not.

Last edited 2 months ago by dk
Fritz Kerr

Hey AD…I’m a huge Avs fan and a recent subscriber to CHN. Can you give me a “readers digest” version of what a Corsi Score is?

Patrick Noonan

Can he win a faceoff? Seems to me the quickest way to improve the special teams would be to possess the puck more. Having second to last percentage means we don’t have the puck enough. Need a center or player who can help with that as higher priority in my view.

Svein Lister

I couldn’t agree more. I wonder how much of the less than stellar numbers for special teams are a result of the Avs often losing key faceoffs. The first PP is generally OK, with both Kadri and Landy on the ice for the faceoffs, but the second PP and the PK would benefit greatly from winning more faceoffs. In the playoffs, when the games become even more desperate, winning a few more faceoffs can be that all-important difference to get an equalizer at the end of a game, or being able to clear the puck when the other team is… Read more »

dk

You think we need to trade for that? I certainly don’t…

All the same guys taking faceoffs last season are still taking them this season and the Avs were ranked 8th in the league for FOW%. Now we’re 31st or something like that. Seems more of a coaching/practice thing or possibly psychology.

Svein Lister

I do think we need to trade for that. You seem to forget that PEB was on the team last year and won 60% of his faceoffs. That certainly makes a difference.

Marie Roberts

Regarding faceoffs for the Avs, Bednar was on Altitude Radio this morning, Vic asked him about faceoffs and why the team struggles. Bednar mentioned the reason why Kadri gets kicked out is because he doesn’t cheat like other players do. Kadri needs to learn to cheat more. They have struggled with faceoffs for years. I hope Sakic finds someone at the trade deadline to help them with faceoffs.

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