Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Maple Leafs Player Preview: David Clarkson


 

The NHL Season is quickly approaching, with that in mind we’re going to take a look at who is (likely) to be on the Leafs roster come October 1 in Montreal. Contract numbers via CapGeek.com; Regular Stats via Hockey-reference.com; Nerd stats via behindthenet.ca. For the rest of our Player Previews go here.

Who:

David Clarkson No.71, right wing | 6’1″, 200 LBS | 29-years old.

ToT Approved Nicknames:

“Kelly” – Apparently teammates in New Jersey took to calling him Kelly as in American Idol winning “Since you’ve been gone” singer Kelly Clarkson. That’s more than passable for me.

ToT Non-Approved Nicknames:

“Clarkie”- If you try to call him “Clarkie” like 90% of hockey meat heads will try to do, we WILL find you! There is, and will only ever be one “Clarkie” in the hearts of Leaf fans

History:

7 NHL seasons, all with New Jersey, 426 career games

Contract Status:

Just signed a 7-year $36.75-million contract ($5.2-million cap hit)

Career Stats:

426 GP 97 Goals 73 Assists 170 Points

2012/2013 Stats:

48 GP 15 Goals 9 Assists 24 Points

Nerd Stats:

On-ice Corsi 23.03; PDO: 956

You Oughta Know:

David Clarkson’s career high in goals came in 2011-2012 when he netted 30, which accounts for 31% of his 7 year career total.

Looking Back:

The Mimico native was a fan favourite in New Jersey before signing a lucrative 7 year deal with the Leafs this past offseason. Known for having a mixture of scoring touch and the ability to punch faces (which Leafs management gets all flustered and blushy about), Clarkson was the prize acquisition for Dave Nonis and his team, automatically drawing comparisons to Leaf great Wendel Clark. Adding to this of course is the fact that Clarkson will wear jersey number 71 this year, the mirror image of Clark’s 17 (no pressure pal).

In last year’s lockout shortened season Clarkson put up 15 goals and 9 assists in 48 games, as well as ranked 8th in the league in on ice Corsi (a stat that calculates shot differential while a player is on the ice that includes goals, shots on goal, and also shots that miss the net). Leaf fans will hope he can regain his 2011-2012 form when he posted a career high 30 goals and 46 points.

What to Expect:

Clarkson will be given every opportunity to succeed in his first season in blue and white, and will end up on the first or second line meaning he will get the opportunity to play with either Phil Kessel of Nazim Kadri. Leaf fans should expect 20-25 goals and somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20 assists, while providing a little sandpaper in the offensive zone.

Where frustration for fans might stem from is his 5.2 million dollar contract which needless to say is a lot to pay for a player that has topped 30 goals once and has a career high 46 points. To make matters worse the Leafs are now under such tight salary cap constraints that they have yet to sign RFA’s Kadri and Cody Franson, the latter of which outscored both Clarkson and first line centre extraordinaire Tyler Bozak last season as a defenseman.

Living up to the hype created by the Toronto media will be nearly impossible for Clarkson, so Leaf fans should try to look past the large contract and see him for what he is; a hard-working grinder that will add a different look to the Leafs offensive scheme this season. But of course, when he fails to score 50 goals this season panic will sweep the streets, and he will be mercilessly mocked in the media. Before you feel badly for him just remember HE GOT PAID! I’m sure he’ll get over it.

 

 

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