There’s something problematic about the Toronto Sun’s Wendel Clark comparison of newest Maple Leaf acquisition David Clarkson. While I don’t dispute that Clarkson is a good player that’s tough, can score goals, and will be a positive player for the Leafs for two seasons, the Leafs had better hope that Clarkson is much more durable than Wendel.
Clark played his last NHL game when he was 33 years old and 191 days. The Leafs signed Clarkson until he is 36 years old and 92 days. Is three years much of a difference? Well, it depends on how Clarkson performs in the latter part of the contract.
Just for a frame of reference, here is how Wendel Clark aged:
|Before Age 29||36.1||3.42||12.87%|
|After Age 29||30.8||2.96||12.69%|
|Before Age 30||36.2||3.37||13.11%|
|After Age 30||28.8||2.84||12.38%|
|Before Age 31||36.4||3.02||14.67%|
|After Age 31||25.1||2.66||11.48%|
When you look at it in expanded terms, you see that Clarkson is a guy whose aging becomes more drastic with every season. Clarkson is headed into his 29-year-old season, and if he loses 15% of his scoring rate per 82 games like Wendel did, he’ll drop from 18.7 goals per 82 so far in his career down to 15.9 goals per 82.
So while people were rationalizing Clarkson as definitely not being a 30-goal scorer today, Steve Simmons called him “18-to-25” but there’s reason to believe that even that projection is optimistic if you look ahead three or four years into this contract.
Frankly, Wendel Clark didn’t age well, and hockey players typically peak in point scoring between ages 24 and 27. Basically, Clarkson is on the wrong half of his career to give a seven-year contract to, and when Clarkson doesn’t live up to the expectations set for him by the Toronto Sun, I wonder what they’ll blame.
The captain? Leadership?
A lot can happen, but there isn’t any evidence to suggest this is a very good bet other than a general faith people seem to be putting on Dave Nonis. The Leafs spent a lot of money on intangibles today, and they may have been better served fiddling around on Hockey Reference for a half hour.