USATSI_9719230_154158418_lowresThe New York Islanders have signed forward Cal Clutterbuck to a five-year contract extension worth $17.5 million, the team announced Friday.

The extension means the 29-year-old will avoid the open market, as he was to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

In 25 games with the Islanders this season, Clutterbuck has nine points and seems on pace to have one of his highest scoring seasons ever. It is therefore tempting to throw a little money his way, especially as he’s seen an uptick in ice time and is an alternate captain.

It goes without saying that general manager Garth Snow is a big fan of rewarding depth forwards. Consider that Clutterbuck, Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas have a combined cap hit of $12.35 million annually, but they’ve only accounted for a combined eight goals this season.

Former Islander Kyle Okposo, conversely, is earning $6 million in Buffalo and has nine goals and a total of 18 points as of this writing.

The Islanders are 11-10-5, good for eighth in the Metropolitan Division, and they’ve scored 69 goals for.

John Tavares is at the head of the pack to the surprise of no one. He has 21 points and eight goals, while Anders Lee also has eight goals for a total of 10 points. Brock Nelson has six goals.

Clutterbuck, in fairness, brings a specific brand of hockey to Long Island and goals aren’t the best metric for his success. The Islanders believe in his value in the room, for one thing, and he also boasts a physical style that finds him laying his body on the line for his teammates.

But whether or not Clutterbuck’s type of role-player should be earning, say, Kyle Turris money is certainly a matter up for debate.

Snow’s sense of direction has been confounding for some fans, especially as he forks out big bucks to character guys who may or may not be able to maintain the level of fitness to play some seriously reckless hockey. With Clutterbuck on the bridge to 30, how well his body holds up will mean a lot with respect to this five-year deal.

The long-term picture for the Islanders is an interesting one and Snow’s tendencies shine a light on where this franchise could be headed. Tavares will be up for free agency in 2018-2019 and should fretch a pretty penny, while Travis Hamonic will be a free agent in 2019-2020.

And when the rubber hits the road, having millions tied up in three character guys like Clutterbuck, Ladd and Cizikas may do more harm than good.

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