UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Right wing Cal Clutterbuck is very close to making his debut with the New York Islanders, but it won't happen Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Clutterbuck suffered a lacerated leg during a preseason game against the Calgary Flames on Sept. 17. Originally slated to miss 4-6 weeks, Clutterbuck could be in the lineup as early as Friday night, when the Islanders visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I could probably play today," Clutterbuck said after skating Tuesday morning. "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 was acquired from the Minnesota Wild, along with a third-round pick, at the 2013 NHL Draft in exchange for right wing Nino Niederreiter. The 25-year-old saw his offensive production dip last season with four goals and six assists in 42 games, but he did finish in the top 10 in the NHL with 155 hits. Islanders coach Jack Capuano knows the style of game Clutterbuck brings to the table and wants the gritty wing to be 100 percent before inserting him into the lineup.
"For the injury that he sustained and as quickly as he's come back, we don't play again until Friday, so this is a perfect opportunity for us for these few days to continue to work on his conditioning," Capuano said. "Obviously, he wants to play. But as serious as that was and as quick as he's healed, we want to make sure that we do the right things too. We feel it's best to give him a little extra time and get him ready for the weekend."
As for the Coyotes, defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris both skated Tuesday morning and should be in the lineup against the Islanders. They were both listed Monday as day-to-day with upper-body injuries and did not practice with the team before it left for New York. Ekman-Larsson had Phoenix's lone goal in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
"I haven't talked to the trainer yet. They were both out there this morning, so I'm hoping they'll be all right," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla has yet to play this season and will not play Tuesday. Klesla suffered a concussion in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings on Sept. 15. He could make his season debut as early as Thursday, when Phoenix visits the Detroit Red Wings.
Here are the projected lineups for Tuesday night:
Mikkel Boedker – Mike Ribeiro – Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Lucas Lessio – Antoine Vermette – David Moss
Rob Klinkhammer – Kyle Chipchura – Chris Brown
Zbynek Michalek – Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
David Schlemko – David Rundblad
Scratched: Michael Stone, Chris Summers
Injured: Rostislav Klesla (concussion)
Suspended: Paul Bissonnette
Matt Moulson – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Frans Nielsen – Josh Bailey
Brock Nelson – Peter Regin – Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Brian Strait – Matt Donovan
Scratches: Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Griffin Reinhart
Injured: Cal Clutterbuck (leg)