Clarkson US PRESSWIRE

 


The New Jersey Devils enjoyed a bounce back season in 2011-12 after looking inept for much of the 2010-11 campaign.  Their play was so bad that it earned them the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft, where they selected Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson.  While Larsson played sparingly and had little impact in his rookie season, Devils veteran David Clarkson had a breakout year of sorts.

 

The bruising right winger from Toronto, known more for his fists than his offensive skills, proved he could score with more than just his right hand in 2011-12.  By setting a career high in both goals and points, Clarkson was a key reason why the Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.  Scoring depth is something that has always been in short supply for New Jersey, so Clarkson’s unexpected output was a pleasant surprise for the Devils.

 

Clarkson finished third on the team with 30 goals in 2011-12.   With a previous high of 17, this year’s campaign would have most certainly been something poolies wouldn’t have predicted.  While 30 goals on its own is nothing to sneeze at, it’s the types of goals he is getting that are most intriguing.  He had eight power play goals and led the team with seven game winners in 2011-12.  As an owner it’s a huge bonus when you can spread the value of a player’s goals over multiple categories.  In addition to that, Clarkson had 13 goals against playoff teams.  Proving he isn’t just taking advantage of the league’s cellar dwellers.

 

Perhaps his offensive explosion can be attributed to shots on goal.  Clarkson finished third on the squad in that category and ahead of the likes of Patrik Elias and Adam Henrique.

 

Rank Player Pos Team GP Total
1 KOVALCHUK, ILYA L N.J 77 310
2 PARISE, ZACH L N.J 82 293
3 CLARKSON, DAVID R N.J 80 228
4 SYKORA, PETR R N.J 82 170
5 ELIAS, PATRIK C N.J 81 164
6 HENRIQUE, ADAM C N.J 74 130
7 ZUBRUS, DAINIUS R N.J 82 109
8 FAYNE, MARK D N.J 82 94

 

Shooting the puck regularly means you are playing with confidence.  And why wouldn’t Clarkson be confident playing nearly 20% of his even strength shifts with Zach Parise and Elias.

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

31.58%

EV

23 CLARKSON,DAVID - 14 HENRIQUE,ADAM - 12 PONIKAROVSKY,ALEXEI

18.76%

EV

23 CLARKSON,DAVID - 26 ELIAS,PATRIK - 9 PARISE,ZACH

 

Now of course it would be remiss not to talk about Clarkson’s bread and butter in the statistical department, PIM.  With 138 he led the team and made sure everyone was aware that although he found a scoring touch, he wasn’t going to sacrifice any tenacity in his game.

 

Rank Name Pos Age Yrs Team GP Total
1 CLARKSON,DAVID R 28 5 N.J 80 138
2 BOULTON,ERIC L 35 10 N.J 51 115
3 CARTER,RYAN C 28 4 N.J 65 84
4 JANSSEN,CAM R 28 6 N.J 48 75
5 SALVADOR,BRYCE D 36 7 N.J 82 66
6 SYKORA,PETR R 35 10 N.J 82 40
7 ZUBRUS,DAINIUS C 34 14 N.J 82 34
7 VOLCHENKOV,ANTON D 30 8 N.J 72 34
8 KOVALCHUK,ILYA L 29 9 N.J 77 33
9 PARISE,ZACH L 27 6 N.J 82 32
10 MILLS,BRAD C 29 0 N.J 24 28

 

The interesting thing about Clarkson’s production is that he sits near the top of many statistical categories for the Devils except one.  Despite finishing in the top three in goals, shots, and PIM, he only ranked 15th on the squad when it came to ice-time, averaging just 16:21 per contest.   

 

After all the positive things you can say about Clarkson’s 2011-12 season, there were some negative points that owner’s need to be aware of as well.  Although he potted 30 goals, Clarkson finished with just 46 points.  Not exactly anything to hang your hat on.  Players that have a season like this can sometimes be a little bit of a one hit wonder when it comes to offensive totals.  If they hit a rough patch and the goals disappear, there is not enough substance to fall back on and produce points consistently.  Not to mention he was minus-8 for the year. 

 

What is good for Clarkson owner’s though is that he had a strong season in many different categories.  He would have to have a complete collapse across the board to be a major bust in 2012-13.  Anything is possible, but you would have to expect that he can maintain some level of decency in at least a couple of areas that can help poolies. 

 

Clarkson may not be able to duplicate a 30 goal season next year, but he has shown the offensive upside to make him a risk worth taking.  Keep a close eye on what the Devils do in the off-season as well.  If Parise decides to move on after July 1st, it may just be the opportunity Clarkson’s needs to step up even more.


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Crispy Water said:

Crispy Water
... Most people wouldn't guess it, but this was Clarkson's second consecutive season finishing third on his team in shots on goal. See the wild swing in his shooting percentage for an explanation of why he turned so many heads this time around. Last season he did it playing 13:31 a game; approximately half the increase in his TOI was on the power play, which also helps. If Parise walks it seems like DeBoer trusts Clarkson to help do the PP work, and possession stats show that while he was no world-beater this year he didn't exactly stink either.
June 22, 2012
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