I cannot possibly do a more complete job on analyzing David Clarkson's recent performance than John has here. He's a top-6 winger right now. I'm still not comfortable depending on him to continue to perform at that level. I wanted to provide a place to talk about the possibly unpleasant reality of David Clarkson and his future.
He'll be a UFA after this season, free to test the waters of free agency. I think it would be naive of us to assume that Lou would make an exception to his own policy of not negotiating with pending UFAs during the season. He could be re-signed between the end of the season and July 1, or he could sign after the Free Agent period opens. Or, he could sign somewhere else, and the liklihood of someone overpaying for his skill-set, especially since he's demonstrated an ability to get the puck in the net, is pretty much a gaurantee. Will David Clarkson command a $4.5M price tag? $5M? More? Does the PDB connection (He's the only guy to believe in me and that made me play out of my skull for the past 2 seasons) give the Devs the edge to keep him in Free Agency?
Now that his stock is higher than ever, does it make sense to entertain trade offers? The NJ Devils could have gotten quite the return out of a Parise rental/positioning last year, and instead fell short of a Cup and lost their "face of the franchise" to free agency. For nothing. I'm certainly not an advocate of trading away all pending UFAs for a bag of magical beans and a six-pack, but there is value in David Clarkson.
What could the Devils expect to get in return? Would any return on David Clarkson be able to fill the gap he left on the score sheet? Maybe a package deal with an NHL level defenseman for a top-6 winger?
I'm very interested in the community's thoughts. I don't know what side of the fence I am on. The Devils clearly need Clarkson, or more accurately, the goals he scores, and I'm not sure the void would be fillable in the near term. But I also recognize that the Devils could easily enough be without him next year, and the prospect of losing a top scoring threat, again, makes me a little sick inside since there's been so much done to address it so far this year.