This is part one of a multi-part series that will break down all of the expiring contracts that the Devils will face this offseason. The first position, Right Wing, contains one of the biggest free agents of the offseason. There are many debates as to whether or not David Clarkson should be on the Devils next year. This series won’t break down the entire free agent pool, just the ones that could be leaving the Devils. First we will start with some minor free agents.
Matt can be seen as either a Right Winger or a Center but he was a huge contributor to Albany during his three year tenure there accumulating 129 points in 199 games. He was a good playmaker and 83 out of his 129 points were assists. He even had his first point in the NHL and his first couple of games as a New Jersey Devil towards the end of the season.
Sadly, the Devils didn’t have a whole lot of time to re-sign him as he signed a 1-year deal with Spartak Moscow of the KHL on May 5th. If things don’t work out in the KHL for him, he would be a good acquisition to re-add to the squad whether it be in the NHL or AHL.
In 2012-13, Mike had his second full season for the Albany Devils. The Devils signed the undrafted player out of the University of New Hampshire. Mike was very impressive throughout his college career but his standout season was during Senior Year when he recorded 48 points in 39 games. As expected, those numbers decreased a little bit as he recorded 26 points in 61 games. The Devils are faced with an interesting situation this year when it comes to their Right Wingers. They have already lost Anderson and Matt D’Agostini (more on that later), but they could also take a dip into the Free Agency Pool and sign a young guy to take Anderson’s spot and another one to potentially cover D’Agostini’s spot, too.
Sislo is a guy that has proven to give a fair amount of production if he gets hot at the right time. He only had a $700,000 cap hit last season and the qualifying offer for him would be around $577,000. For depth in Albany or New Jersey and also his potential, I believe the Devils should keep him around for the future.
Lou Lamoriello has already stated that D’Agostini’s qualifying offer would just be too much to bring him back. Considering that his qualifying offer would be 1.8 million, I think that that is a smart move to part ways. He has had some fantastic seasons with the St. Louis Blues but he didn’t necessarily dazzle when he was acquired from the Blues but some people could also argue he didn’t have enough time to get comfortable as he only played in 13 games.
Either way, Lou has said that Matt D’Agostini will not return and that sets up an opportunity for someone like Krys Barch or even Mike Sislo to move up into either a Reserve spot or into one of the lines. D’Agostini was a fairly regular player on the Devils once he was traded.
Although not a playmaker, Cam has been a pretty successful enforcer in his time in Albany and New Jersey. In Albany last season 45 out of his 65 penalty minutes have been from fights. He doesn’t produce many points but enforcers are never expected of that. He only had a cap hit of $575,000 last year and is unrestricted so the Devils have a chance to sign him for a few years and develop him.
They have been sending him up and down the past couple years and if the Devils don’t seek out anyone huge in the free agent pool, he could be promoted to fulfill the role Krys Barch has right now as a reserve enforcer. The Devils may also need him to stay in Albany for depth reasons depending on how many LW players move to RW, if any. For now, I think the Devils should definitely sign him to at least a 2-year deal to lock him up for a while.
Tom was signed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. He didn’t display too much production in his 15 games for the Devils. In 17 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season he had 3 goals and 4 assists. His cap hit wasn’t much last season and re-signing him shouldn’t really be a huge cap problem.
The only real question is what it is for any player: Is he worth the roster spot along with the money? He can potentially be a person to add a certain depth to the team. With Bernier, Gionta, and Barch definitely returning, plus the possibility of Cam Janssen returning to the team, Tom could be the odd man out.
Since the Devils will most likely go out to get a Right Winger, especially if they lose David Clarkson to Free Agency, Tom might not be brought back next season. He is a player that could add depth to the Devils, especially in Albany if that’s where they choose to put him. I think they should re-sign them but only if it’s to an AHL contract initially.
Now the big one. David Clarkson is a tricky man to figure out. David is coming off an incredible 2011-12 season that included 30 goals. This past season he only accumulated 15 goals. Now, you may say, “Well the season was shortened. How could he possibly get 30 goals again this season?” If it were that simple, I’d say re-sign him. It’s just not that simple.
David was on a tear in the first two months of the season where he managed to rack up 17 points through February. The last two months of the season he only earned 7. He had 10 goals and 7 assists through February and then only earned 5 goals and 2 assists afterwards. Now, the
next stat is even scarier: In the 6 games that were played in January he managed to earn 1 goal less than March and April combined while scoring 2 assists and 1 point more than that same time frame. You can just pile on the stats when it comes to his slump.
The whole team slumped during the time he slumped, yes, but even his plus/minus ratings are pretty bad in the 19 losses the Devils recorded during the season. Even if the rest of the team is slumping, recording only 2 points in losing efforts from March until the end of the season is not acceptable when it comes to supporting your team.
Now, being the rough grinder he is, the Devils would be more than happy to re-sign him. They have two problems, though. One is that David wants a lot of money that he might not deserve. The second is that they want to make Patrik Elias a Devil for life and that may also convince Zidlicky to stay, too. Elias surely won’t be cheap considering he is unrestricted this season and is excited to test the market.
Now for the million dollar question: “Should the Devils re-sign David Clarkson?”
My answer is no. Clarkson’s slump is very worrying despite it being a year removed from a 30-goal season. If he wanted to come back for relatively the same amount of money, then the Devils most likely would have signed him by now. He is asking too much coming off such a huge slump and the Devils could end up signing someone younger and cheaper and it might turn out better.
As I stated before, the Devils have Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, and Krys Barch under contract for this season at RW. Losing Matt Anderson could turn out to be a hefty blow in the future but he could always return if the KHL isn’t for him. The Devils should re-sign Cam Janssen and Tom Kostopolous, the latter being on the team mainly for immediate depth in Albany. Losing Matt D’Agostini is a shame because they could’ve used him but the money would’ve been too much for such a risk. Mike Sislo can also provide a favorable amount of depth in Albany, too.
David Clarkson is going to be too risky for the amount of money he will ask for and I would much rather the Devils focus on re-signing Patrik Elias instead of Clarkson.
Should the Devils risk the money and the roster spot for David Clarkson? Should the Devils go out and sink their teeth into the RW Free Agency Pool and sign at least one player? Vote below!