After failing to bolster the Edmonton Oilers roster with size and sandpaper through draft day trades, Craig MacTavish will now have the opportunity to complete that task via the free agent market. And one name that will draw plenty of interest is David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils who is set to become a free-agent on July 5th.
The Devils tried to re-sign the gritty forward to an extension with an offer prior to the midnight deadline according to an article on TSN.ca, but in the end the two sides were unable to agree on a new deal and now the 29-year old will test the open market.
Good news for the Oilers?
It’s been discussed here at Oil on Whyte numerous times already but to reiterate, Clarkson is the type of player the Oilers are missing. A big, strong, tenacious forward with an offensive upside that can slide into the top six forwards and make an impact. Yes, despite his reputation to run his mouth and take bad, untimely penalties, Clarkson’s game features everything that the Oilers need and now he will be available to sign and bring to Edmonton.
In order to do so MacTavish will have to open up the Oilers wallet and likely have to overpay someone like Clarkson. He will be of interest to many clubs including the Toronto Maple Leafs who may be a more attractive place for Clarkson given it’s his hometown.
Coming off a three-year deal that saw the Devils pay Clarkson $3 million per season, the rugged winger is in for a substantial raise this summer. It’s been speculated that he’ll demand north of $5 million per year and will surely get it if a bidding war ensues. The latest on Twitter has him asking for around $6.5 million per season which is down right ludicrous. Of course the Devils could still re-sign him and with the finishing touches being put on a new Patrik Elias deal by the sounds of it, Clarkson could then become Lou Lamoriello’s main focus.
Providing Mac-T can move both Horcoff and Hemsky from the payroll, meeting Clarkson’s demands shouldn’t be a problem for the Oilers. Is he worth it? There will be those that don’t think he is but this Oilers fan is sold on him, just not at $6.5 annually.
Coming off a lockout shortened season, Clarkson scored 15 goals in all 48 games. The season prior could be deemed his breakout year where he put up 30 goals in 80 games, helping his case to be paid substantially in this game.
New head coach Dallas Eakins will keep him in line if Clarkson tries to act up on the ice given the new mentality he’s bringing to the Oilers organization.
All that has to be done now is to offer Clarkson the money he wants and convince him to sign in Edmonton. That’s not so difficult is it? If history has taught us anything, it’s that Craig MacTavish had better be good at selling.
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