Nathan Horton has six seasons with 20 or more goals, a Stanley Cup ring and a points-per-game average in the postseason (0.84) that’s the epitome of clutch.
David Clarkson has one 30-goal season, no ring and a 0.32 PPG average in the postseason.
One has a 7-year deal with the Blue Jackets at a $5.3 million cap hit that the majority of pundits called abject overpayment. The other just signed a 7-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a cap hit of $5.25 million.
So what to think of that latter deal for the Leafs and David Clarkson?
Statistically, Clarkson only arrived as an offensive force in the last two years. John Fischer’s essential analysis of Clarkson’s 30-goal season with the New Jersey Devils should be consumed by every Leafs fans that’s wondering how he arrived as a player. (Long story short: More shots on goal, and increased ice time from Coach Pete DeBoer, for whom he played in juniors.)
Clarkson can be a dominant force in the offensive zone on the forecheck, a prototypical power forward who scores from the dots down and isn’t easy to take off the puck.
His intangibles can’t be quantified, either: He drops the gloves, delivers big hits, is great in the locker room and has a blue-collar aesthetic that’s an asset to any roster. (Let’s pretend I’m the first to coin the phrase “WENDEL CLARKSON,” although I know I’m not.)
The downside to Clarkson? Undisciplined play at times, an offensive repertoire of about three moves and inconsistency: In 2013, he had one goal in 17 games; in 2012, he had one goal in 10 games; and in 2011, he had one goal in 19 games.
Again: $5.25 million per season for a player that was shuttled between the second and third lines for New Jersey in the last two years. For seven seasons.
But as Horton showed, that’s the going rate for a power forward in the NHL. Although Clarkson’s former boss got Ryane Clowe for slightly less to replace Clarkson.
Know what Clarkson is, and what he gives you away from the scoresheet, and he’s an asset. Obsess over the offensive output vs. the term and value of the contract, and he’ll be run out of town.
The Leafs also resigned center and Phil Kessel bestie Tyler Bozak for five years and $21 million, i.e. a $4.2 million cap hit.
This is actually a relief for some heart attack victims, who previously read that Bozak was in line for an 8-year deal with $5 million a season.
(Considering that news emerged from TSN, one assumes it was leaked by the Leafs so everyone can breathe a sigh of relief when the contract comes in at far less money and term. Such is life when your team is owned by the media that cover it.)
Bozak is, to put it lightly, a divisive player, and the idea the Leafs bought out Mikhail Grabovski to retain his services won’t exactly help is approval rating.
From Cam Charron on Bozak, whom he believes is “miscast” as a top line center:
This is an overpayment for the player that has held back Phil Kessel on offence for the last four seasons. He does not actually win any more faceoffs than an average centreman would. He is an absolute drain on Toronto's offence, and was lucky enough to be around the same fall that Phil Kessel made his debut with the Leafs.
This is an absolute disaster, and the fact that the Leafs have given Bozak money and have given David Clarkson term is an indication that Dave Nonis has no idea what he is doing. I hate citing anonymous sources, but I am told that a Leafs executive interviewed a SABRist about doing some statistical work for the team. Not only did the Leafs not think that it was worth it to have a researcher on staff, but the Leafs executive didn't seem to have a clue what the interviewee was talking about.
The advances stats on Bozak indicate he’s a drag on the Leafs’ best player, and that any positive numbers he has are because of Kessel.
Hope Bozak buys Phil a nice steak with that new contract. Or whatever the hell Kessel eats. Guessing liver and onions, with a glass of peppermint Schnapps.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Red Wings get Stephen Weiss with five-year deal
• Ducks trade Bobby Ryan to the Senators
• Coyotes sign Mike Ribeiro to lucrative contract
• Nathan Horton headed to the Blue Jackets