Ryane Clowe was one of the big signings made by the New Jersey Devils this offseason. He was brought in to provide toughness on offense and to collect some dirty goals.
It looked like they were paying Clowe for what he has done throughout his career rather than last season. He only played some games in the shortened season and only scored three goals on the year. The four years before that, he averaged between 17 and 24. He is a decent scorer, but whether he was worth the near $5 million per season for five years is up for debate.
He is currently on his way back from another major concussion. This is an issue that has plagued him for the past two seasons. Recently, he has been offered advice from Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby on how best to return from the injury. Crosby missed big chunks of 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons dealing with head injuries and post-concussion syndrome. Hopefully, one of the game’s best players can help him out.
The question is, where does Clowe fit in this offense? The Devils cannot put him in a top-six position just yet because he can’t play those kinds of minutes. Do they put their $5 million player on the fourth line? Can they afford to put Clowe, who was struggling to score even before the injury, with other struggling players like Andrei Loktionov and Steve Bernier?
Do they put him with Michael Ryder or Damien Brunner, where he has a chance to bring them off their hot streaks? Is Adam Henrique someone they put down the lineup to help Clowe?
They can’t put him with a Jaromir Jagr or Patrik Elias because they cannot have him playing those kinds of minutes this soon. He needs to be eased back. This is a five-year investment. Ask the Philadelphia Flyers how they feel about mishandling a concussion. Chris Pronger is still getting paid even though he hasn’t played a game since 2011.
Clowe is finally going to come back for the Devils during a time when the offense is playing better. He will be able to get better looks than he did prior to his injury. He should have much better stats from now until the Olympic break, when he should be back to 100 percent. Expect him to become a very productive player for this franchise.