David Clarkson grew-up in Toronto cheering for the Maple Leafs. Now, after spending the first seven seasons of his NHL career playing for the New Jersey Devils, he’s coming home.
Clarkson was Toronto’s major addition during the initial hours of free agency. He brings the team a much needed boost of skill, grit and leadership. The terms of his contract haven’t been universally loved – he’ll make close to $37 million over the next seven years – but it should say something that he left more money on the table elsewhere to play in Toronto (Edmonton and Ottawa were very interested in acquiring his services). At 29 years of age, Clarkson will likely finish his playing career here as well.
The Maple Leafs can expect some decent production from Clarkson on the scoreboard. He notched 30 goals in 80 games during the 2011-2012 season and added another 15 goals in 48 games this past season. Clarkson also recorded a career-high 46 points in 2011-2012.
Having said all this, Clarkson wasn’t added to the team for his offensive numbers. There are clearly better scorers on the team and if the Maple Leafs really wanted a sniper, then I’m sure they would have pursued someone else. (Tyler Seguin?)
What Clarkson really provides is physical presence. Playing alongside Dave Bolland (another Toronto native), Clarkson will finally give the Maple Leafs a possible edge over the Boston Bruins – a team that has long tormented and frustrated the Buds.
It’s my guess that Bolland will center the Maple Leafs’ second line sandwiched between Clarkson and James van Riemsdyk. If true, that’ll be quite the nasty line. It’ll be able to put pucks in the net and bodies through the boards on a regular basis.
Clarkson’s addition has drawn immediate comparisons to another famous Clark on the team: Wendel Clark. Both players are known for bringing certain intangibles to the game. They’ll do anything to win and they’re great teammates.
Clark the senior recently said Clarkson is the better all-around player when the two are compared. I’m not sure this is true, but I’ll gladly watch Clarkson make his mark in Toronto and draw my own conclusions.
If there’s one thing that Clarkson already brings to the table, it’s a deep passion for the Blue & White. Everything else will simply be icing on the cake.
Loyalty, as fans of the Ottawa Senators surely know by now, is priceless.
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