David Clarkson: Comeback King

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Photo: Canadian Press Files - Postmedia News

Tonight, David Clarkson will make his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Many in Leafs Nation are excited about the prospect of a power forward like Clarkson entering the lineup. Rightly so: he hits, he fights, he cycles and he can put the puck in the net.

Despite the aforementioned accolades, the most valuable contribution Clarkson will make to this team is simple: his unrelenting desire to win as a Maple Leaf. A longtime fan of his native Ontario team, Clarkson turned down a better offer from the Edmonton Oilers to make Toronto his (likely) final destination in the NHL. Yet even with the New Jersey Devils, the most reliable aspect of his game was the fire and determination he brought to the ice on a nightly basis.

Make no mistake, Clarkson is no offensive dynamo. Those expecting a surge in his career point-pace will be disappointed (although a slight increase is possible given the potential for better linemates, ice time, and a more offensive system than he ever experienced in New Jersey). There will be times where he will look awkward on the ice or a step behind the ethereal skills of linemates such as Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri. But David Clarkson will never be faulted for his effort. He will add a needed dimension of grittiness and puck possession to this team’s top nine.

Most importantly, he elevates his game when his team needs him the most. He brings a style of leadership-by-example that will hopefully serve to rally his talented teammates with a surprisingly multifaceted approach. Most fans are aware that he will throw his body with abandon and drop the gloves to protect his teammates. Yet an underrated aspect of Clarkson’s game is his ability to elevate his offensive output in dire situations to an unparalleled level:

 AVG Shots/60 when trailing by one goal
(2010-2013)
2010-2011 Rank2011-2012 Rank2012-2013 Rank
David Clarkson15.48541
Justin Williams13.2761182
Alexander Ovechkin11.6828528
Jeff Carter11.4435847
Evander Kane11.3123641
Henrik Zetterberg11.13391024
Logan Couture10.8066724

Yes, you’re reading that right. Over the last three seasons, no player has directed as much rubber at the net as Clarkson has when their team is down by a goal. The only player even close to him in this regards is Justin Williams (he of the clutch game seven performances for the vaunted L.A. Kings). Clarkson places well ahead of noted offensive motors such as Alexander Ovechkin, Evander Kane and Henrik Zetterberg. Moreover, Clarkson’s consistency in this respect has also been second-to-none. He has been in the top five league-wide in this simple measurement of situational shot output for each of the last three seasons.

What does that mean for the Leafs? It means that Clarkson may not hit the scoresheet on those nights that the Phil Kessels or Joffrey Lupuls blow open the barn doors early in the game with high-percentage shooting off the rush. On those nights where Toronto has taken the early lead you will probably see Clarkson focusing on keeping the puck in the offensive zone, finishing his checks, and irritating the crap out of the opposition.

But, in those games where the Leafs fall behind and the many skilled forwards this team possesses are looking for that spark to get them going – Clarkson will be leading the way. You can be virtually guaranteed that he will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink in the direction of the other team’s net alongside his usual antics. The goals that he will get may not always be pretty, but hopefully they will come when the team needs them most.

Welcome to the Maple Leafs, David Clarkson.

  • wendelsway1

    Good Game Day Morning Gents……..So excited to see Clarkson in the line up….even moreso, after reading this write up…..Thanks Nikhil!……..It’s a great day to be a Leafer!!!…….GO CLARKSON GO!!!!  :)

  • vacant3

    Mornig all. Wow – that’s a crazy stat. I have to admit – I’ve never been a huge Clarkson fan, but that stat has opened my eyes. He’s exactly the type of player this young team needs.

  • wendelsway1

    -Keon- A little chilly out this morning, while out jogging with the dog……could be worse, not jogging is snow and slush…..yet.  lol

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks, and Nice Article Nikhil, lets edjumacate the fan base, Clarkson is not the second coming of Gretzky. I love the fact you mentioned with a lead, Clarkson will be doing the little things to keep it. 
     PS, Did lupuls Body armour get Ordered Nik ?

  • Mind Bomb

    -Keon- Nope thats Bozak !

  • wendelsway1

    Mind Bomb Morning MB…..unleash the Clarkson!

  • Mind Bomb

    wendelsway1 Mind Bomb Morning WW, I just hope RC plays him at center with Kes and JVR :)))) P

  • Burtonboy

    Single handedly change our Corsi lol . Just kidding . Actually it will be sweet having a guy who plays this type of game in the line up. If he plays well and lives up to expectation hopefully its rubs off on the team as a whole. Even an average cycle game would make an already dangerous team even that much better

  • Burtonboy

    Mind Bomb Bonjers MB and the rest of you fine folks this morning

  • wendelsway1

    Mind Bomb wendelsway1 Lol……You leave Bozie alone…..big meanie :)

  • Mind Bomb

    wendelsway1 Mind Bomb hahhaha

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy Mind Bomb Sup BB, man I cant believe how excited I am for a game against Columbus lol

  • Burtonboy

    Mind Bomb Burtonboy Look forward myself too . Very curious if the team may have turned a corner with that last win.

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy  I would have loved to seen him and Koromov, on the forcheck together, Talk about Havoc !

  • Burtonboy

    -Keon- Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • wendelsway1

    Burtonboy Sure will…and yes, one player can certainly add a spark, leading by example.

  • Burtonboy

    wendelsway1 Burtonboy Crazy eyes lol

  • JMAC17

    In the last MLHS Hangout Anthony touched on Kadri’s feeding off Komorov’s ability to stir up shit and take the game to the dirty places.
    Really hoping Clarkson returns that element to our line up, Kadri has played well, but we hit the next level when he gets his swagger back.

  • wendelsway1

    Burtonboy wendelsway1 lol….Canadian Psycho!

  • Burtonboy

    JMAC17 One of many keys points Anthoney made in that episode JMAC

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy Mind Bomb I hope so, it appears Tampa Bay will have something to say about the Playoff seeding with the start they have had, and that is unanticipated, with only 3 Gaurenteed spots the Race gets more interesting.

  • Cameron19

    Mind Bomb Burtonboy Man, Detroit looks dumb dropping Filppula for Weiss right about now. Conversely, Filppula is lookin’ great for the Bolts.

  • Burtonboy

    One thing I have noticed is Kadri seems to start slow the first 10 games or so. Pretty much every year he’s been a pro its been the same . Hard to call what he’s done so far a slow start but I can see him kicking it into another gears very shortly

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 Mind Bomb Burtonboy I’m sure glad we stayed away from Weiss. Take Bozie any day

  • wendelsway1

    Do we know if McLaren is playing tonight?

  • Burtonboy

    wendelsway1 Not sure . The 24 days are up but the 10 games required for LTIR aren’t as far as I know

  • Mind Bomb

    Cameron19 Mind Bomb Burtonboy No shit Cam, and Normally Holland is pretty astute, we could all see this coming a mile away. Looks good on Detroit lol

  • Cameron19

    Burtonboy A lot of the players who have an edge to their game seem to struggle coming out of the gate. Iginla has always been a slow starter, and is picking it up now, for example.

  • Cameron19

    Burtonboy wendelsway1 Isn’t it whichever comes first for LTIR?

  • Burtonboy

    Cameron19 Burtonboy wendelsway1 That’s what I’m unsure about

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook He wants the pressure.  And that is the greatest concern here.  Just want him to play as he always has and not try to be a living legend.

  • wendelsway1

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb Burtonboy You and me both…..plenty of players to get excited about who are actually on the Leafs roster.

  • Cameron19

    Mind Bomb Cameron19 Burtonboy I really want the Wings to suck for a while. I wonder how bad Weiss would have to be for the Wings to consider using their 2nd compliance on him.

  • Burtonboy

    https://twitter.com/rfan_3https://twitter.com/rfan_3/status/393716278822567936
    I bet Clarkson really loves to blast the tunes in the dressing room too. John Cougar Mellencamp just ripping through the halls of the ACC.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook wendelsway1 Mind Bomb Burtonboy Ha, I don’t think anyone thinks he’s a messiah.  But I think it was sour grapes on the part of most fans to pretend he was easily replaceable.  Not many 4th liners in the league did what he did as far as racking up hits and being a thorn.

  • Mind Bomb

    wendelsway1 TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb Burtonboy Aye WW and when at least one of them steps up and does what Koro did I will move on, but Right now, Bodie, Devane, Smith, Ashton,D’amigo  are not replacing him.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Yea, but he’s not a total mad man. At the heart of his game is a dump and fore-check guy, who tries to take the puck to the net, and finish his checks. That’s all we need him to do right now, and the rest will follow naturally.

  • wendelsway1

    Mind Bomb wendelsway1 TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy My comment wasn’t to make light of what Komarov did for the team, but he doesn’t help us, when he’s not on the roster.  I’ll cheer for the players who are donning the Leafs jersey and representing, rather than pine over a player who isn’t.  :)

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Mind Bomb wendelsway1 Burtonboy Well, he’s nearly a PPG player in the KHL, so he probably rightfully thought he could have taken on a bigger role with our team, but even having said that, I think it only had very little to do with money. I think we would have gladly paid the guy 1.5-2.0 million if WE had the cap space – but we’re currently spending that money on having Liles buried. That’s hardly Komarov’s fault. Beyond that though, the most important thing is that the guy wants to represent his country at the Olympics, and knew he would have a hard time of that playing 4th line for us.

  • GeorgeCastanza

    If David Clarkson can bring the same elements that a healthy Gary Roberts did playing alongside Mats Sundin, I’ll be a very happy Fan.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook Cameron19 Yea, you’re bang on about that.

  • Dan39

    Love reading a positive non-stats article about the Leafs like this. More of this; less of the regression nonsense.

  • dlb eh

    i saw Big Buf hit a guy in the highlights fromt he WPG game from last night.
    it looks very much like the hit that’s getting Scott suspended to me.
    but different circumstances, different players…means it’s not the head shots the league’s looking to deal with i assume.  and maybe that’s indication that “if you can play you can stay”?
    but big guy hitting player with head down, making head contact without all out intent.  same.

  • Jon5200

    wendelsway1 Carlyle in his PC said Mclaren is cleared to play and is available to him……does that mean he’ll use him??

  • Burtonboy

    TheCanucksnaphook dlb eh
    http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/25/video-chara-knocks-sharks-wingels-out-of-game-with-high-hit/related/

  • dlb eh

    Burtonboy
    AP is well prepared to talk hockey and Leafs

  • Cameron19

    dlb eh The guy was still carrying the puck when Byfuglien hit him, and he was in the slot with his head down, and it was a shoulder, mostly from the front.  Not to defend Buff, but that is nothing like what Scott did.  Scott’s was an elbow, well after the puck had moved on, in a non-threatening area of the ice, with a blindside.

  • Cameron19

    TheCanucksnaphook dlb eh Well, there have always been different rules for the Bruins and Chara.

  • Dan39

    dlb eh Yeah, but he’s not considered a goon so different set of rules. Never mind that Scott himself is not a goon, in that he does not have a history of dirty plays, not a repeat offender, etc. The media has it’s narrative and unfortunately the league office operates that way, too.

  • wendelsway1

    Jon5200 wendelsway1 …..only Carlyle knows…lol     Hopefully we’ll find out before pregame warmup.