NEWARK, N.J. — The New York Islanders fulfilled a need by adding rugged forward Cal Clutterbuck in a trade with the Minnesota Wild and unloaded a bit of a headache in the process.
New York and Minnesota worked out a deal Sunday early in the NHL draft that sent Clutterbuck and a third-round pick to the Islanders for fellow forward Nino Niederreiter, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Things soured between the 20-year-old Niederreiter and the Islanders when he asked to be traded. He had a solid year in the AHL but wasn't on New York's postseason roster when the Islanders were eliminated by Pittsburgh in the first round. Niederreiter also wasn't invited to training camp last season.
New York general manager Garth Snow denied that a rift existed, from his point of view, with Niederreiter.
"For us, no," he said tersely. "Whenever you have a good young player it is always tough to make a deal. For us, if we didn't get Cal in return, it isn't something we would have considered. We got a quality player that is going to be inserted into our lineup and help our team win."
Niederreiter has two goals in 64 career NHL games.
"It was an opportunity to get a quality player that fills a need that we have," Snow said. "We gave up a former first-round pick. You have to give up something to get something, and we did that."
The deal was made during the draft Sunday, shortly before New York selected defenseman Ryan Pulock with the 15th selection.
The 25-year-old Clutterbuck was due to be a restricted free agent in five days.
Clutterbuck was always among the league's leaders in hits. He is an intense player who for a while gave the Wild decent production on the third line. He had 19 goals and 15 assists in the 2010-11 season, but following the lockout this year, he scored only four goals in 42 games.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said his club was interested in Niederreiter three years ago, but he was off the board well before Minnesota could grab him. Fletcher wasn't concerned at all about how Niederreiter would fit in now following a change of scenery.
"We have done a lot of homework on him over the years. We did a ton of homework on him leading up to the 2010 draft," Fletcher said. "There were no red flags from our perspective. At the end of the day, he is a 20-year-old player, and like every 20-year-old kid, maybe he made a couple of decisions that five, 10 years later you look back and say, 'Why did I do that?' — like the rest of us.
"He will certainly have a clean slate with us. His size and scoring ability are two ingredients that we can certainly use."
The Islanders will be counting on Clutterbuck to add a different dimension to their club. Fletcher said he wouldn't have dealt him to any Western Conference rival.
"We got a good young player that is established in the NHL," Snow said. "We love the element of grit. He has had success of putting the puck in the net and creating offense. For us, it is immediate help, and we are happy about the trade."
Snow also spoke well of Pulock, a 19-year-old defenseman from Brandon of the Western Hockey League, who 14 goals and 31 assists in 61 games last season.
"Good young defenseman who can create offense," Snow said. "He plays the game the right way. Plays hard in front of his net. We just really love his offensive flair. He is going to be a good young defenseman for us."
Of the Islanders' seven picks Sunday, three are forwards, two are defensemen and two are goalies. They had a long wait between taking Pulock and then grabbing goalie Eamon McAdam at No. 70 and Taylor Cammarata six picks later. Both American players came from Waterloo out of the USHL.