David Clarkson‘s first year with the Toronto Maple Leafs has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start. Signing with Toronto after spending seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Clarkson was handed a massive ten game suspension during a preseason game with the Buffalo Sabres. During a rink-wide brawl started when Sabres forward John Scott went after Phil Kessel, Clarkson left the bench to join the scrum. You don’t have to be an avid fan to realize that’s a big no-no with NHL discipline.
However, now that he’s returned from his benching, he’s dealing with another issue. This time, its a lack of scoring.
Clarkson’s played ten games for Toronto so far, but has yet to notch a goal. Obviously with his struggles to put the puck in net, it was only natural for local media to start questioning the mammoth $36.75 million contract the Leafs handed him in the offseason. In response to this, Clarkson pointed out that, despite the money he received, he’s not exactly here to be the team’s offensive powerhouse.
“I wasn’t brought here to score 50 goals,” Clarskon said, according to TSN. “I was brought here for that full game that I bring, competing every night.”
To be fair, he has a point. Looking at his career totals, he’s not exactly in the upper echelon of goal-scorers like Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos. He scored 30 goals in the 2011-12 season, but beyond that he’s yet to score over 17 in a season.
That said, everybody knows money talks in situations like these. Fans and media alike are forced to wonder what it was about Clarkson, who in his short time with the team has been called out for minimal scoring and lack of better judgement, that made him worth such a huge cap hit.
Still, its such a minimal sample size at this point. Ten games is way too early to view a player as a bust signing. Even the best players in the league get snake-bitten from time to time. Clarkson has plenty of time to get his game together, so patience is a virtue in this situation.
Of course, if his struggles last all season, then its time to maybe question the Leafs front office’s decision making.