Cal Clutterbuck is set to return to the Islanders
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Lane Lambert expressed optimism Monday about Cal Clutterbuck’s chances of playing in Tuesday night’s Islanders game against the Canucks. The right winger nevertheless sat out for the 6-2 win with a right finger injury.
“He’s getting closer,” Lambert said after the Islanders’ morning practice, which Clutterbuck attended. “We’ll see as this journey goes on.”
The Islanders play back-to-back in Edmonton and Calgary starting Thursday before having three days off when they return home. Clutterbuck took lines with Aatu Raty and Matt Martin on Monday.
Of the five Islanders struggling with injuries, Clutterbuck, who hasn’t played since Dec. 16, is the closest to a return.
Kyle Palmieri (upper body) skated, but wasn’t at full throttle in practice. He was on the ice for an optional skate Tuesday morning. Simon Holmstrom (knee), Adam Pelech (upper body) and Oliver Wahlstrom (head) did not travel with the team. Semyon Varlamov (groin) was activated on Monday.
The Islanders have ties to winger Jakub Vrana, who was shockingly placed on waivers Tuesday morning by the Red Wings. Lambert coached Vrana as an assistant with the Capitals and Vrana’s agent JP Barry also represents Mathew Barzal.
The Islanders could manage Vrana’s $5.25 million cap if they choose to pick up the former 25-goal scorer on waivers.
Vrana entered the player assistance program in October and was in the middle of a conditioning stint with AHL Grand Rapids before being waived. He has played two games this season and has an injury history, having undergone shoulder surgery last season.
It’s unclear whether general manager Lou Lamoriello would be willing to ignore those issues to bring Vrana to Long Island. But on paper, Vrana is the kind of scorer the Islanders could use in their top six.
Lambert said he hasn’t spoken to the team of Damar Hamlin, the NFL Bills safety who collapsed in Monday’s game in Cincinnati, but the players have discussed it amongst themselves.
“Everybody…knows what happened,” Lambert said. “Certainly, I think they definitely made the right call in doing what they did in terms of the game. The guys talked about it for sure.