The 2010-2011 Player Review: David Clarkson
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. We’ll cover the big team stories, but also offer a breakdown of individual player performances. In today’s first review, we focus on David Clarkson.
David Clarskon seemed on his way to a career year during the 2009-2010 season. The right-winger recorded 15 points in the first two months of the season, looking like the secondary scorer the New Jersey Devils needed. He produced on the powerplay, putting up six points. He continued his physical play, recording 52 hits. But that would all change on November 27, when Clarkson blocked a shot from Zdeno Chara. It fractured his fibula, derailing a promising season and limiting him to just 46 games.
This off season, Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello inked Clarkson to a three year, $8 million deal. It seemed a steep price for the right-winger, but the organization expected him to continue improving. He entered the season with the realistic expectation of cracking the 20-goal plateau while providing a tough, physical presence on the ice.
Clarkson brought the physical play, but left his offense behind. He led the team in hits (170) and penalty minutes (116), numbers expected from him. He never came close to reaching his expected offensive output. Clarkson finished with 18 points – the lowest total in his three-plus seasons – despite playing in every game last season. He provided a much-needed physical presence, but ultimately disappointed because of his limited production.
Clarkson At Even Strength
Clarkson managed to play every game last season, his average time on ice of 13:37 ranking him 20th among all skaters. He only averaged 0.98 points per 60, a dip from the 1.81 point per 60 he produced during his last healthy season (2008-09). His minus-0.77 rating follows the downward trend of all skaters this season. It also points to his overall lack of production. If he produced more offense at even strength, that rating would be much better. He should have produced better numbers, as his quality of competition (minus-0.070) ranked below the quality of his own teammates (plus-0.013).
Playing between the third and fourth lines somewhat hindered Clarkson’s production. He helped produce just 1.16 goals for per 60 (19 total) while allowing 2.15 goals against per 60 (35 total). On the ice, the team generated 27 shots for per 60, which isn’t a terrible number. But those numbers pale in comparison to those from his the 2008-09 season, when he produce 2.23 goals for per 60 (32 total). The third and fourth lines don’t need to hinder production, and that can’t excuse the lack of offense.
The goal production improved with Clarkson on the bench. The goals for per 60 jumped almost a full goal to 2.09. But numbers dipped in other areas, such as shots for per 60 (25.9). The defense also slipped, increasing the goals against per 60 to 2.31.
The Corsi numbers tell the ultimate story. On the ice, Clarkson finished with a plus-3.74 rating. It’s not exactly a world record pace, but it’s a nice finish. With him off the ice, the number increased to plus-4.25. Clearly, the offense slightly improved with him off the ice. The team averaged less shots but also allowed less shots against, giving it a better ratio. Against weaker competition, you’d expect him to produce more offense. But in a down season, he struggled like the rest of the team to create and bury scoring chances.
Clarkson On The Powerplay
Clarkson is the “dirty man” on the powerplay, charged with screening the goalie and scoring garbage goals. He played the role well this season, producing solid offensive numbers. He only recorded two total powerplay points, but his impact affected every significant stat. The Devils’ right-winger recorded a plus-1.45 rating while averaging a time on ice per 60 of 1.64. His quality of competition was pretty solid (plus-0.600) and didn’t get much help from his teammates (minus-0.844). That didn’t effect his overall production though, which means he was either very lucky or very good.
Unlike even strength play, Clarkson helped create offense on the powerplay. While on the ice, the Devils averaged 5.36 goals for per 60 (12 total) and 38.8 shots for per 60. His on-ice plus/minus of 4.02 was fourth among skaters with 50 or more games played. Off the ice, the shots for per 60 increased to 48.7, with that bump probably coming from the first line. When Ilya Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston are bombing shots, those stats are bound to increase. Goals for per 60, however, dropped to 3.49, almost two full goals less.
Corsi reveals Clarkson’s positive offensive contributions. On the ice, he produced a plus-74.99 rating. Off the ice, that shot up to plus-86.43. While the off-ice rating trumps his on-ice rating significantly, it’s not a bad Corsi to carry. Take into consideration his low quality of teammates rating, and it proves his offensive worth. The numbers don’t show it, but he became one of the better players on the powerplay last season.
While it was good to see a fully healed Clarkson this season, we didn’t get to witness the whole package. His physical play, never in question, returned with an exclamation point this season. He collected more hits than Anton Volchenkov, who routinely sits among the league leaders in that category. He didn’t show any hesitation resuming the style of play that made him successful. That’s always a concern after a player sustains a serious injury.
The one thing I keep coming back to is the lack of offense. It seems Clarkson teases us with his 20-goal potential. For a few weeks in January, we saw that potential. But as quickly as it comes, it disappears. He’ll never crack the top six forwards, which could hurt his overall production. His ability to force his way to the front of the net and score dirty goals can work with any line. It seems the predictions always peg the next season as Clarkson’s breakout, and he can never fully achieve it.
We end the discussion by looking at Clarkson’s GVT rating. It wasn’t pretty, as he checked in with a minus-2. That put him second to last on the team, ahead of Adam Mair. For a guy set to collect $3 million in the next two seasons, he should produce above the level of replacement skaters.
Clarkson once again flashed his potential this season. But he once again failed to fulfill it, leaving the team – and its fans – wanting more next season.