As the free agent signing period approached, it was pretty much a certainty that David Clarkson wasn’t going to return. He was seeking a massive contract, out of the neighborhood of what the New Jersey Devils were willing to pay, which was verified when he signed a seven-year, $36.75 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Which means that on the first day of free agency, the Devils were placed with the task of having to replace Clarkon on offense. They made a pair of signings to do so, signing Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder. While the deal for the latter is pretty favorable, at two years and $7 million, the Devils may have dumped way too much money in signing Ryane Clowe.
Clowe is coming off of a season in which he totaled only three goals, but that isn’t really the issue with the Devils signing him to a five-year, $24.25 million. He’s not going to shoot three percent again, so he’ll find the back of the net more often this season. The real issue is the fact that he brings a checkered health history to the table.
Over the course of his career, Clowe has been relatively durable, but his 2013 season could be cause for concern. He reportedly suffered multiple head injuries during the season, limiting him to 36 games during the regular season and just two during the postseason.
Aside from the potential health risk in signing him, there’s also his skill set, which may be relatively limited. He plays the physical game and is capable of playing in the top six, and contributing, but he’s also extremely slow. Will a combination of these factors make the Devils regret signing him to such a lucrative deal? Potentially.
Now if Clowe is healthy, and that’s a big if after last year, then this deal could pay off. Clowe will add more physicality to the mix than David Clarkson and had reached at least 45 points in the four seasons prior to 2013. He can be an asset. But there’s little doubt that the Devils drastically overpaid to bring Clowe to New Jersey.