As the New Jersey Devils head into their offseason, they already have a pretty good idea of what their primary objectives are. Those items at the top of the to-do list include several key veteran free agents in need of new contracts. One of those free agents is forward David Clarkson.
There were some whispers early on in the season that the Devils could try and deal Clarkson at some point during the season, but that never came close to materializing. It’s clear that he’s a valuable piece of this lineup. But he’s going to command a pretty large deal this summer. Will the Devils be willing to pony up the dough?
Clarkson is one of six unrestricted free agents for the Devils, who also have another six restricted free agents to deal with. It wasn’t until last year that Clarkson established himself as a regular goal scorer. He had 30 goals in 2011-2012, almost double any total that he had in any year prior.
This season, he was one of the only consistent goal scorers for an otherwise stagnant Devils offense. His 15 goals were tops on the team. He was third overall in points with 24, as he added nine assists. He was an asset on the power play, finishing with six of his goals on the man advantage.
We know that Clarkson is a valuable piece of the Devils. He’s a top goal scorer for the club, and also brings a physical element. He’s durable as well, missing only two games over the past three seasons combined. It’s not a matter of whether the Devils want him back. It’s whether they’ll be able to bring him back.
In a weak free agent class, Clarkson could find a pretty hefty contract, both in terms of years and dollars. He could go outside of New Jersey and find a larger contract during free agency, if he so desires. The Devils are already working on a new deal for him. But if he’s still unsigned in July, when free agency begins, it could be very tough to retain him.