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2008 Final Grade: Brett Clark

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2008 Final Grade: B

2007 Grade: A-

Links:

{{clark}} (hockey-reference page)

2007 report

2008 ITCS (aka highly unofficial) clark game log

Season Stats: 57gp 5g 16a 21pt +5

Minutes: 1,320 total minutes (4th among D). EV 16:46, PP 3:10, PK 3:13, ATOI 23:09

1st Half: 41gp 4g 10a 14pt E

2nd Half: 16gp 1g 6a 7pt +5

Best Month: February (6gp, 1g 3a 4pt +5)

Linemates: Skrastins (26), Sauer (19), Hannan (9), Leopold (2), Cumiskey (1)

Season: Clark played in just 57 games after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against the Ducks on February 12th. Clark's +5 matches the career high he set last season, but with his shortened season he wasn't going to top any of his other career highs. Even if he had played a full year, he was on pace for just 30 points - not a career year.

Report: Clark has always been one of the most polarizing players on the club and that status isn't going to change with him more than doubling his salary next year (more on that in a bit). I won't lie - I'm a fan. Clark is a versatile, all-around player who is good - not great - at just about everything. He's solid on defense, is extraordinarily calm with the puck, passes well, has a decent shot and blocks shots like there's no tomorrow (officially 499 with the Avs and counting). Since the departure of Rob Blake and Derek Morris, Clark has been the only guy that has been used consistently in every situation. That doesn't mean he's #1 material, but it does mean that he's an extremely valuable guy to have. His ice time is about on par with 06-07, with about a 30 second dip in PK time. Overall, Clark was off a bit from his previous season (when I gave him an A-). He and Scott Hannan looked ridiculous together at the start of the season and Clark seemed to more prone to mental errors than he has been in the past. In what I'm certain will be a recurring theme in my grading this summer, Clark had a disappointing season on the powerplay with just 6 PP points, a drop from 14 the previous year. You can't blame ice time (he averaged over 3 minutes a game, on par with 06-07) and you can't blame the injury - his scoring rate was just way down (from a pp point every 20 minutes last year to a pp point every 30). There's no reason for him to have those kind of PP numbers (although, again, I have a feeling I'm going to type that sentence a lot in the next few weeks). I said this last year and I'm going to say it again this year: Clark has shown that he can make a great home run pass out of the zone but, for the second straight year, we rarely saw him use it. As Dario mentioned, this may have as much to do with the coach as it does the player. He was showing some signs of improving offensively, with 5 points (including 2 on the pp) in the 7 games leading up to his injury. Unfortunately, Clark is STILL driving me crazy by chewing his mouth guard all to hell...

Fast Fact: Clark and Hannan were a combined -12 in the 9 mostly-disastrous games where they were paired together.

2007-2008 Salary (and Cap Number): $1,500,000 ($1,500,000)

2008-2009 Status: Clark begins the first year of a 2-year $3,500,000 per season extension.

Salary Justification: Clark is one of 12 defensemen with a cap number of $3.5 million in 2008-2009 according to NHL numbers:


  • Alexei Zhitnik, Derian Hatcher, Willie Mitchell, Mattias Ohlund, Chris Phillips, Tom Poti, Mike Rathje, Craig Rivet, Sami Salo, Nick Schultz and Brent Seabrook.


How many of those guys would you rather pay $3.5 million too? Now scratch of Schultz and Seabrook who haven't hit the open market and now you're left with...what, Craig Rivet? You may not like seeing guys like Clark and the others on this list make that kind of scratch, but that's the going rate, folks.

Outlook: Clark has averaged 35 points a season in his 3-and-a-cup-of-coffee seasons with the Avs and I'd expect his numbers to be similar to that next year (assuming his shoulder. It's possible that Clark could break into the 40s if Tony Granato implements a more up-tempo game. I think Clark will benefit greatly from not having to chase Karlis Skrastins around anymore (after 88 games with him over two years, he deserves a break). I don't know that anything will ever steer the detractors into the fan column, however.