Clutterbuck could ‘probably’ debut for Isles tonight, but won’t

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For once, Cal Clutterbuck is playing it safe.

The high-energy forward, known for his relentless (or, as some suggest, reckless) style of play, won’t make his New York Islanders debut on Tuesday against Phoenix, opting to take another game of rest to repair a preseason leg laceration.

“I could probably play today,” Clutterbuck said, as per NHL.com. “But I think just in talking it over with the medical staff and the coaches, it’s just probably better that I be more prudent at this point. I’ve lost two games, three tonight. In the grand of scheme of things, 82 games plus playoffs, I think it’s maybe a little bit smarter to miss an extra one versus missing some more down the road.”

Clutterbuck, 25, suffered a pretty serious cut early in the third period of an exhibition game against Calgary. He immediately left the ice and appeared to be in serious discomfort, didn’t return, and was later ruled out for 4-6 weeks.

His recovery has been speedier than first estimated, though. There’s a good chance he’ll make his regular season debut on Friday in Chicago, and New York could definitely use his presence against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Clutterbuck, an energetic forward and former junior teammate of Isles captain John Tavares, was brought aboard to add physicality to New York’s forward group and inked four-year, $11 million deal in July, shortly after being acquired from Minnesota in exchange for Nino Niederreiter.

As for where he’ll play? Clutterbuck began training camp on a line with Peter Regin and Michael Grabner, but Grabner is now playing with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey while Regin is centering Brock Nelson and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.