Who is the better fantasy own, points-only - David Clarkson or Viktor Stalberg?

Facing off this week are David Clarkson and Viktor Stalberg, two players who signed UFA deals during the summer and have lofty expectations facing them this season and beyond. What’s interesting is the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide predicts they’ll score within one point of each other this season. But which one will help your fantasy team more when all is said and done? Let’s find out!


Career Path

Clarkson is older and more experienced, having already played 426 NHL games and set to turn 30 during the season. Early in his career, he racked up a lot of PIM but not much in the way of points; but he started to turn heads in 2008-09 by breaking the 30-point barrier, and then scored above a 0.5 points per game pace in an injury shortened 2009-10 season. He regressed significantly in 2010-11, but in his past two seasons scored 45 goals (70 points) in 128 games as he began to see regular time on the power play and in the top six for the Devils.

Although he’s only about two years younger than Clarkson, Stalberg has skated in just 243 NHL games, first with the Maple Leafs, then the last three seasons with the Blackhawks.  In all his seasons, Stalberg has struggled to get time on a scoring line and the PP; but despite this, he still managed to score at over a 0.5 points per game pace in his past two seasons (31 goals, 35 assists in 126 games) with Chicago.


Past Ice Time and Production

Although both players are heading to new teams, we should examine how they fared in the past based on the Ice Time they received in relation to the line mates they had. I didn’t list shorthanded Ice Time, since neither had more than a few seconds each year.



Total Ice Time


PP Ice Time

PP points


14:07 (Stalberg)

17:35 (Clarkson)

23 (Stalberg)

24 (Clarkson)

2:11 (Stalberg)

3:33 (Clarkson))

2 (Stalberg)

8 (Clarkson)


14:04 (Stalberg)

16:21 (Clarkson)

43 (Stalberg)

46 (Clarkson)

0:27 (Stalberg)

3:03 (Clarkson)

0 (Stalberg)

16 (Clarkson)


10:41 (Stalberg)

13:37 (Clarkson)

24 (Stalberg)

18 (Clarkson)

0:12 (Stalberg)

1:39 (Clarkson)

1 (Stalberg)

2 (Clarkson)


There are two clear pieces of data – Clarkson received more PP time and made the most of it, while Stalberg had more points per 60 minutes of Total Ice Time. I think Clarkson’s PP advantage will continue, since although Toronto has five players (six, assuming Cody Franson resigns) who received 2:39 or more per game on the PP last season, none – not even Phil Kessel - had more than Clarkson’s 3:33. And while some of Clarkson’s PP minutes were no doubt due to the offensive shortcomings of the Devlis, the reality is a good part of Clarkson’s past (and future) value comes from his PP skill. I definitely see him still getting lots of quality minutes on Toronto’s top PP unit.

With Stalberg, the big question is whether his dismal career PP output (five PP points, no career PPGs!) can improve. In the past, his struggles could be blamed on very little PP time; but accumulating a mere two PP points last season when receiving 2:11 of PP time per game was truly dismal, especially when considering the talent he lined up with. Just look at his 2011-12 breakdowns according to Frozen Pool:












This data clearly tells us Stalberg was oddly more successful at scoring even strength points with less skilled linemates than he was at hitting the scoresheet on the power play despite lining up there with the likes of Patrick Kane (14th in the NHL in power play points).

Based on this data, an equal case seemingly could be made for two opposite conclusions: (1) Stalberg won’t do any better on the PP with the Preds, as he’ll have even worse linemates (Nashville was 27th last season in PPGs, and had only one player – Shea Weber – with more than ten PP points), or (2) he might actually do better on the PP with the Preds, since he has shown in the past (based on his even strength numbers from last season) that he can click with less offensively talented players of the type he’ll see time with on the PP with for the Preds. But either way, a big edge in overall production goes to Clarkson, mostly due to the PP.


Relative Value of Points

The gist of “relative value of points” is that points are more valuable for a fantasy team when they’re not shared by other players owned in your league, since those are the kinds of points that cause actual movement in the standings. After all, if you have Martin St. Louis on your team and the guy you’re chasing in a points only league has Steven Stamkos, that won’t help you see a lot of movement between the two of you, since both Stamkos and St. Louis often tend to get points on the same scoring plays.

In this area I see Stalberg as having a just as big of an edge over Clarkson as Clarkson had over Stalberg in Ice Time and Production. After all, Stalberg is going to a Nashville team that finished dead last in goals in 2012-13 and whose highest scoring forward (David Legwand, at 25 points) finished tied for 136th in scoring. Yes, the Preds also had Shea Weber and his 28 points, plus Colin Wilson chipping in with 19 points in 25 games in an injury shortened season, but clearly they’re not a team that would likely have a lot of players on other rosters in your league.

In stark contrast, Toronto had the sixth best offense in the NHL last season, and six players (all still with the team, assuming Cody Franson resigns) score 28 points or more. With Clarkson having inked such a huge deal, it’s impossible to picture him not playing – and sharing points - with Toronto’s highest scorers. But with Stalberg, it’s realistic to see him getting a good number of his points where no one else in your league will share in those points. That’s why the edge here lies with Stalberg.


Secondary Categories

Poolies know that Clarkson is a multi-cat stud, so for most of these areas the question won’t be whether Clarkson holds an advantage of Stalberg, but rather how great that advantage is.





Blocked Shots




+16 (Stalberg)

-6 (Clarkson)

43 (Stalberg)

84 (Clarkson)

14 (Stalberg)

6 (Clarkson)

25 (Stalberg)

78 (Clarkson)

113 (Stalberg)

180 (Clarkson)


+6 (Stalberg)

-8 (Clarkson)

91 (Stalberg)

169 (Clarkson)

24 (Stalberg)

19 (Clarkson)

34 (Stalberg)

138 (Clarkson)

215 (Stalberg)

228 (Clarkson)


+2 (Stalberg)

-20 (Clarkson)

102 (Stalberg)

170 (Clarkson)

25 (Stalberg)

19 (Clarkson)

43 (Stalberg)

116 (Clarkson)

135 (Stalberg)

192 (Clarkson)


As we can see, the categories where Clarkson has a leg up are ones based entirely on his individual performance. And while he might tone down on Hits and PIMs because of his big contract, it stands to reason that he’ll replicate a good chunk of his past performance in these categories. In terms of Shots, he could see a decrease since Toronto had two players (Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk) in the NHL’s top 25 for shots last season, plus Joffrey Lupul, who averaged three per game.

The issue with Stalberg is not only does he trail Clarkson by a significant margin in several categories, but the area where he clearly bested Clarkson is plus/minus, and his significant plus number last season likely had a lot to do with Chicago scoring 50 more goals than it surrendered. In his two previous seasons when the Chicago goal differential was less (ten in 2011-12; 33 in 2010-11), Stalberg’s plus rating was much lower. This is significant since Nashville’s goal differential was in the negative last season, and hasn’t been even near +50 in recent times. Substantial edge to Clarkson here.


Goals to Go Around

One area where fantasy owners often hurt themselves is by becoming convinced that goals grow on trees. They think if a 30 goal scorer goes from a team that was 24th in league goal scoring the prior season to a team that was third, then he should be able to easily become a 40 or even 50 goal scorer. But the reality is that usually is not the case, as there are only so many goals to go around.

With Clarkson, he’s going to a Toronto team that was sixth in the league in goals last season, despite Joffrey Lupul missing a big chunk of the campaign. Since Clarkson has 24 more goals than assists for his career, and the Maple Leafs already have goal-oriented forwards in Phil Kessel (more goals than assists in two seasons), Joffrey Lupul (four seasons with more goals than assists), and James Van Riemsdyk (more goals than assists in two of his four seasons), there should be serious concerns about diminished goal output from Clarkson this season and beyond. After all, something has to give.

In contrast, Stalberg is going to the NHL’s worst offensive team from last season. And while that could hurt him in terms of not having scorers around him to help his points output, it won’t stand in his way with respect to others keeping him off the score sheet. Edge here to Stalberg.


Value vs. Cost

We saw above that the Predators have struggled offensively, while the Leafs are well on their way to becoming perhaps a top five NHL offense. What’s more, the Predators don’t get a lot of press (in “real life” hockey or fantasy hockey), whereas original six teams – including the Leafs – do. Plus, there was a lot more “buzz” since Clarkson signed his deal compared to Stalberg since he signed his. For example, Stalberg’s name appeared in 21 different threads on the DobberHockey Forums after July 1st, while Clarkson appeared in an astounding 93 within the same time frame. The reality is Clarkson’s name is more “out there” in the fantasy hockey universe, and that can’t help but inflate his price tag.

All this will lead to the cost for Stalberg being artificially low in relation to his value, and Clarkson’s being artificially high – probably too high in fact to justify selecting him over Stalberg. Big edge to Stalberg.


So Who Wins?

In a points-only league, Stalberg is the logical choice. The reality is he’ll likely give you as many (if not more) points than Clarkson, but will cost you far less for the reasons discussed above. Plus, the relative value of his points will be greater, as they’re less likely to be shared by others in your league.

It’s a different story if your league counts stats like PP points, Hits, Shots, and/or PIMs, as Clarkson will give your team a far bigger boost in those areas. In fact, if your league counts three or more of those four categories, then I think the pendulum could swing back to Clarkson, where he becomes the more valuable of the two despite his price tag. But even as I say that, one thing to remember is if your league goes to the trouble to count several of these of categories, then your fellow owners will likely be smart enough to sniff out Clarkson’s added value, in which case his cost rises and once again his value will suffer. The best thing to do in a multi-cat league where Clarkson is a valuable asset is to set a reasonable price for him and stick to it, resisting the urge to select him too early in a draft or to trade too much to get him.


Recent Cage Matches:


Sam Gagner vs. Teddy Purcell 
Christian Ehrhoff vs Dan Hamhuis 
Victor Hedman vs. John Carlson 

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Comments (2)add comment

RizzeeDizzee said:

... @Lewdog - The purpose of Cage Match is to go beneath the surface and examine players from different angles. Plus, it's written from a detached perspective to help people take a hard, honest look at player value both individually and as compared to another similar player. In some cases the conclusion might mirror what might be drawn from a simple comparison of the type you describe; but even then you'll have been presented with data and analysis that should leave you with not only more information about these two players, but also about how to assess other players individually and head to head.
September 19, 2013
Votes: +0

Lewdog said:

... Three pages of TOI analysis and number crunching to learn that Clarkson is the better all 'rounder and Stalberg has slightly better scoring upside. Is it just me or does that seem like something you can get from a 10sec look at their basic stat sheet?
September 19, 2013
Votes: +0
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