It’s no secret that Craig MacTavish and the Edmonton Oilers were interested in signing unrestricted free-agent David Clarkson when the frenzy began on July 5th. The interesting part of the story that came out today was that Mac-T had reportedly offered more money to Clarkson than the Toronto Maple Leafs ended up getting him for. Furthermore, MacTavish had offered up a 7-year deal to the former New Jersey Devils forward, the same terms that he signed on for in Toronto. A move that confirms the Oilers’ willingness to overpay for the rugged winger.
Ultimately it came down to where Clarkson preferred to play and given he’s from Toronto, playing for his home town Leafs was appealing to him. Now all he has to do is deliver on the ice to help keep the rabid fans and fish bowl media off his back. In other words, he has to live up to the contract that lasts seven years and will pay him $36.75 million or $5.25MM annually. If he can’t do that then he won’t be the first professional hockey player to be publicly crucified for under producing in Toronto.
Back to MacTavish and the somewhat desperate behavior he was portraying. The general reaction on Twitter after Clarkson signed with Toronto was to the tune of “thank goodness the Oilers didn’t offer that contract.” Well, technically they didn’t. They offered more by the sounds of it although the exact dollar figures were not disclosed.
Most Oilers fans weren’t sold on the idea of overpaying for a player who has only scored 30 goals in a season once in his career. Granted he was on pace to come close to that plateau this year in the lockout shortened season. He’s also only registered more than 40 points is a season one time, further backing the point that anything more than $5 million per year over any length of term was too much.
Imagine what Oilers’ fans would be saying had MacTavish landed Clarkson and inked him to a 7-year deal worth $42 million or $6MM per year. That would have been the bold move that everyone is waiting for but bold doesn’t necessarily mean smart.
Thanks to Clarkson’s decision the Oilers still have room within their salary cap to add other players that will be considerably less than what MacTavish was willing to pay. Of course they may not be a top-six forward who has the size and grit that Clarkson would have brought, but considering what the dollar differences will be, that’s maybe not a bad thing.
Was MacTavish desperate to sign Clarkson, forcing him to throw in the highest bid possible? Even that wasn’t enough and depending on how Clarkson pans out in Toronto, Oilers’ fans may continue to breathe a sigh of relief that Edmonton wasn’t his chosen destination.
For more news and analysis on the Edmonton Oilers, follow us on Twitter @OilonWhyte.