The Toronto Maple Leafs received a pretty decent amount of negative attention surrounding their offseason moves over the course of the summer. Many questioned the acquisition of Jonathan Bernier, while just as many questioned throwing a ton of money, and a lot of years, at free agent forward David Clarkson.
While Bernier has wasted little time in proving Dave Nonis absolutely right, Clarkson hasn’t had that same opportunity quite yet. He’s been serving a 10-game suspension to start the season for leaving the bench to fight during a preseason game. He’ll make his Maple Leafs debut on Friday night, in Toronto, to much fanfare, no doubt.
It’s no secret why the Maple Leafs, among many other teams, coveted Clarkson during the free agent signing period. While he didn’t offer up to most exciting of statistics, he’s a former 30-goal scorer and a physical force on the ice. He displayed that during the preseason, and it’s that element that will make the Maple Leafs now even tougher to match up against.
The Leafs were already one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, if not the league, even without Clarkson in the mix. He may very well fail to reach 30 goals, or even get into the 25 range. It’s not necessarily the goal scoring that makes this team more dangerous with Clarkson in the mix. They already have plenty of that.
What does make them even more dangerous is an ability to make you pay in the physical game. They can muscle teams off the puck and are strong on the forecheck, making them a tough matchup for opposing defensemen. Clarkson just adds another presence that can be the physical force down low and in front of the net, which could lead to an even larger offensive output for Toronto.
His presence is certainly going to be one to keep an eye on for this season. He’ll make an impact, quite literally, when he steps on the ice, but if he’s able to get back to his goal scoring ways, this team will be even more dangerous, and Dave Nonis will look even smarter than he does after the Bernier acquisition.