We all know that converted Devils haven’t made for the best Rangers. It’s an inescapable trend, but it would also be foolish for the team to make decisions based on past history rather than judging what individual players bring to the table.
So with that said, GM Glen Sather and company should give serious thought to making a run at pending UFA winger David Clarkson.
Prior to last season, Clarkson was best known for being a pest, unafraid to drop the gloves and often yapping away at opponents. In fact, his style was very reminiscent of former Ranger fan favorite Sean Avery.
But suddenly last year Clarkson became something Avery never was – a goal scorer. It still sounds weird to say, but Clarkson busted out for 30 goals in 2011-2012 and started off at an even better pace this season with 10 goals in his first 14 games before tailing off. He finished the season with 15 goals to lead the Devils.
Now Clarkson is going to expect to be paid like the elite level scorer he’s proven to be over the last two seasons. And that’s the danger of chasing him this summer.
I have no doubt that Clarkson would make a tremendous Blueshirt. He’s speedy, scrappy, terrific in front of the net and he gives his all every night. But is it realistic to expect him to be a 25-30 goal scorer consistently going forward after he posted 9, 17, 11 and 12 goals in his first four full NHL seasons?
Some of those same things were said about Ryan Callahan not long ago and we all know how that turned out. Clarkson doesn’t have Callahan’s talent, but some guys just have a knack for putting pucks in the net. It’s just probably not going to be worth the risk.
New Jersey is eager to keep the 29-year-old and a host of other teams will be lining up come July 1st if Clarkson hits the open market. He could very well command in excess of $5 million a season. That’s the going rate for players that have produced on Clarkson’s level in recent years, but it’s too much for a guy that is best suited penciled onto your third line.
Clarkson is right in the middle of his peak years, but we’ve seen how quickly guys can decline once they hit the wrong side of 30. Even if the Rangers buy out Brad Richards and have plenty of cap room, should they immediately turn around and invest long-term in another guy that is clearly a risk?
I love Clarkson as a player, but if I was Sather there’s no way I’d be prepared to dole out that kind of cash for a pest that may or may not ever approach his recent level of production again.