The Rangers should stay clear of Dave Clarkson


With free agency approaching and current New Jersey Devil Dave Clarkson announcing he intends to test free agency, the media will naturally associate the Rangers as a player in the race for Clarkson’s services. However, the Rangers would be wise to avoid the physical Clarkson in all but the most buyer friendly of circumstances.

Even disregarding the minimal success – to put it politely – the Rangers have had with former Devils (think Gomez, Scott and Holik, Bobby) Clarkson doesn’t make sense for the Rangers. At 29, and in a free agency pool regarded as weak, Clarkson is in a position to absolutely cash in, despite not producing overly impressive numbers one season withstanding.

Clarkson’s one season where he scored heavily in 2011-12 was a product of a shooting percentage well above his career average (13.16% as opposed to a career 9.39%) so it’s reasonable to assume Clarkson cannot continue that trend, especially when he has to contend with other top six wingers such as Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, and the presence of Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin. That’s without mentioning the demands players such as Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard will have on top six minutes.

If Clarkson’s career -32 wasn’t enough of a red flag, his lack of special teams pedigree should be. Only in his solitary stand out season did he score more than 8 points on special teams. Offensively, while a solid contributor, Clarkson isn’t a difference maker, and if the Rangers are going to invest heavily it needs to be in that type of player.

Clarkson is clearly a good player, he’s emerged as a physical force for the Devils, but his production isn’t worthy of overpayment. He also timed his career peak just in time for free agency, which just means more dollar signs in front of his eyes. Clarkson’s desires to cash in are also obvious. Not only has he announced he’s testing the free agent waters, but his agent Pat Morris’ comments (“We have no need to call him (Lamoriello), New Jersey is the one facing life without David.”) indicate a level of self entitlement.

Could the Rangers use a player of Clarkson’s mould? Absolutely. Do they have the cap space, roster space (in their top six), or room to take a risk on a player entering free agency with dollar signs in his eyes? Absolutely not. The Rangers need to approach this free agency period with an element of caution. Chasing Clarkson would not be consistent with the team’s situation.

The Rangers certainly need to add physicality to their roster, but with a few prospects on the horizon (JT Miller, Oscar Lindberg, and on defense Dylan McIlrath) they would be better off signing a player such as Ryane Clowe to a shorter deal than Clarkson will likely command. A guy like Clowe knows the Rangers organisation and has already proven he can play well in Ranger blue. There are no such guarantees with Clarkson.

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  • I like Clarkson and yes the Rangers need him. However, in the cap world every dollar counts and overpaying a 20 goal scoring with some grit is not good management. The Rangers should be drafting and developing their own Clarkson type players.

    • I agree but they don’t need Clarkson. There’s no room on the top 6 and he’s gonna get paid too much to play 3rd line mins. He doesn’t fit the Rangers needs. They need 3rd and 4th line players that can contribute offensively and win a game or two every now and again. If Clowe will sign cheap enough he’s the better option. I’ve had 3 concussions in my life all playing hockey and I never skated off on my own like he did. What Clowe had was a bump in the head. You get a headache and maybe sensitivity to light the next day. A concussion you have no clue where you are or what happened. I had these. The NHL is just creating a strict protocol for head injuries. Clowe is fine and should resign in NY! After the 2nd I was told I can’t play hockey anymore. Was he told he can’t play? I believe he was cleared a week later.

  • Good article, but I have to disagree with you on two points.

    1-Clowe should not be signed again, concussion, and injuries as of late. Major red flag here, in spite of the fact that I really like the man, and what he brings.

    2-For the right price, and that is a big IF, Clarkson would work out well. He is younger than Clowe, scores better, skates better, and is tough. Maybe not as tough as Clowe, but plenty tough just the same.

    This is just academic, because Slats doesn’t have the cap space, and Clarkson probably won’t want to play for the Blueshirts, so this makes for interesting conversation!

    • Clarkson is only 2 1/2 years younger than Clowe. He’s played 11 fewer games than Clowe but has put up 109 fewer points.

      Clarkson does not score better than Clowe.


  • Clarkson does something that Rangers need – goes to the front of the net and scores garbage goals. Only Callahan does that on the current Rangers roster. That could certainly use him – for the right price.

  • prior to reading this i liked him and thought he would fit in well… Now, i am with you. Love the article, makes a ton of sense.

    It seems like he would have to play a third-fourth line role and not worth the pay-day. I agree, if we wanna stay physical resign Clowe.

  • The Rangers don’t have nearly enough money to sign him now that they’ve decided to keep Richards. There would be no reason to try. The Rangers should just groom their prospects for spots on the team.

  • They can’t afford Clarkson. Can’t even afford Clowe (who will be cheaper) because of keeping BR. I don’t think they have anyone to move that would free up enough cap space to sign either. I would rather have a cheaper 3rd line center and either one of these guys than BR, but obviously that’s not possible now.

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