This offseason, the Devils have several player questions which need to be answered. Should the team pursue Ilya Kovalchuk, leaving Paul Martin to free agency? Maybe the opposite should occur. Can general manager Lou Lamoriello find a solid, second-line center? And how much would that center cost?
In the commotion over Kovalchuk and Martin, one restricted free agent has moved to the back burner in the minds of many fans. David Clarkson, the team’s skilled tough-guy, can entertain offers from other teams in the league. Which brings me to my main question – how much is Clarkson worth?
The Devils had high expectations for Clarkson this year, and many fans echoed the same thought. Clarkson played in all 82 games last year, tallying 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists). The resident tough-guy also took 164 penalty minutes. Finally, Clarkson scored four powerplay goals, showing his versatility with the extra man. But stats don’t tell the entire story. Clarkson provided the Devils with a big body, someone who wasn’t afraid to mix it up and crash the net. Clarkson’s play seemed to be endearing himself to the Devils organization and fans alike, and expectations grew.
It seemed Clarkson would take off this season, but he didn’t have the best of luck. Clarkson twice injured his ankle – the first coming after he blocked a Zdeno Chara shot. The injury set him back, and Clarkson missed significant parts of December, January and February. His absence was noticeable, as the Devils lacked a big body to mix it up in front of the net the entire season. When on the ice, Clarkson seemed to provide a spark, giving the Devils the physical presence they so desperately lacked.
This off-season, the Devils talented young winner becomes a restricted free agent, one I believe would garner some interest from teams around the league. While Clarkson has shown he can be a talented scorer, I don’t believe he’s worth breaking the bank over. In an offseason where the Devils must decide if Martin or Kovalchuk will receive a big payday, Clarkson shouldn’t expect a bank-breaking deal. The winger only made $875,000 last season, and I don’t see much of a raise coming his way. I would have to believe Lamoriello would only offer two or three million dollars for the next few years. At most, a three or four year contract for four million would be acceptable. But that would be pushing it. I think Clarkson isn’t worth that much money, especially with bigger holes to fill.
So what do you think? What is David Clarkson really worth? Make your opinions known in the comment section of the article!