The New Jersey Devils made a lot of big moves this offseason. Somehow the one they spent the most money on — and may be the worst depending on who you ask — seems to have missed the headlines. The signing of Jaromir Jagr had all the talking heads chatting about whether they made a good move signing the future Hall-of-Famer. The trade for Corey Schneider had everyone glowing over how Lou Lamoriello was still the best GM in sports. Michael Ryder was called the best signing of the offseason by some hockey media outlets. Then there was the Ryane Clowe signing.
As good as Lamoriello is, he has made some serious mistakes when it comes to reactionary signings. He signed an over-the-hill Alexander Mogilny when he thought he would be without Patrick Elias due to his contraction of Hepatitis A. He ended up playing 34 games for the Devils. He signed Dan McGillis and Vladimir Malakhov after Scott Stevens retired and Scott Niedermayer left to play for the Anaheim Ducks after the NHL lockout. Is this the same kind of signing? Was this a gross overpayment due to the fact that David Clarkson left to play with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs?
Clowe is going to make $4.85 million each of the next five years. The Devils committed close to $25 million to a guy who scored three goals last season. He was absolutely terrible for the San Jose Sharks, scoring zero goals in 28 games. He was much better in the 12 games he played for the New York Rangers, but that is still a small sample size.
Not only was Clowe’s production down, but he was also dealing with concussion issues. Head injuries are something that could kill a team. Just ask Chris Pronger and the Philadelphia Flyers how it handcuffs a team. I hope when the Devils made this kind of commitment they double and triple checked his injury status.
Did Lamoriello overpay for Clowe? Probably, but if he can replicate the production he had with the Sharks from 2008-2012 then he will at least look like a decent signing. The fact of the matter is at this point they are going to need the production from Clowe. The whole ordeal feels a lot like the New England Patriots and Wes Welker. The Patriots felt like they made Welker and not the other way around. I feel like the Devils feel like they can do the same for Clowe as the Patriots feel they can do the same for Danny Amendola.
To be fair, this may not be like the McGillis or Malakhov signings. The Devils seem to feel like Clarkson was good because the Devils gave him the opportunity to be good. They feel like Clowe can be the same player. I think if that’s how they felt, then they could have signed “that player” much cheaper somewhere else.