Midseason Grade: C+
Final Grade: C-
Joined Team: January 24, 2002 (in trade with Atlanta for Frederic Cassivi)
MHH Nicknames (thanks Mike!): The Mouthpiece
- Hannan (24)
- Liles (20)
- Foote (16)
- Salei (12)
- Leopold (2)
- Tjarnqvist (1)
- Vernace (1)
- TOT 22:19 (2nd)
- EV 16:52 (2nd)
- PK 3:05 (2nd)
- PP 2:21 (2nd)
*Rank is based on total minutes, not average per game.
Career Highlights: Clark's goals (2), assists (10), points (12) were his lowest in 4 years. His -16 +/- was the worst of his career. In better news, his penalty minutes have declined every year since his first full season in Colorado (56, 50, 33 and 32).
Report: I was outspoken in favor of Clark's $3.5 million extension back in August of 2007. Hell, I was so much in favor of it that I wrote about it. Twice. Since then, I've soured on Clark considerably as the level of his play has plummeted. I gave him an A- two years ago. Last year: a B. For the midseason grade in January, I gave him a C+. Now he's a C-.
I never considered Clark to be a terrific defender. I love his ability to block shots and like his versatility to be used in all sorts of situations. But his best asset was his offensive pop; the ability to throw up 30-35 points while providing adequate defense made him a solid - if unspectacular - top 4 guy. Unfortunately, his offensive spark has fizzled considerably. The 39 points Clark put up two years ago is a distant memory. Clark had just 12 this year. That's simply not enough to overcome the defensive liabilities.
It's frustrating to see how all the Avalanche defensemen seem to have offensive restraints in place by the coaching staff, but I'm not sure we can blame all of Clark's issues there. Clark averaged over 2 minutes a game on the powerplay, 2nd most (behind Liles) among defensemen. And over all those minutes (179 on the season), Clark managed to score...2 points. Yikes. In 76 games, Clark had one more PP point than Ray Macias had in 6.
Clark wasn't a great defenseman to begin with, and he's been sliding there too. He is getting beat to the outside with an alarming increase in regularity, and I don't imagine he's going to get any faster. I also have to reluctantly point out that Clark's intensity level declined sharply as the team finished out the year. He certainly wasn't the only guy to mail it in towards the end, but I think he might have been the biggest offender; he simply looked dreadful in his final few games. Frankly, that worries me as much as it surprises me. If he's not giving it his all out there, he's more than an overpaid player - he becomes a liability.
Fun Fact: Clark has played for the Maine Black Bears, Orland Solar Bears and the Hershey Bears. I'm sure that is interesting to me alone.
The Brett Clark Drinking Game: Drink whenever Clark's mouth guard is not in his mouth. Drunk potential: Comatose.
What I Said Last Year: "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. It's possible that Clark could break into the 40s if Tony Granato implements a more up-tempo game."
2008 Salary (and Cap Number): $3.5M ($3.5M)
2009-2010 Status: Clark has one more year on his contract. A buyout would save $2.33 million next year but would count $1.2 million in 2010-2011.
Outlook for 2009: No matter how you slice it, that was Clark's worst season in an Avalanche uniform. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to indicate that this was a temporary dip in performance - Clark's play seems to be in steady decline. Clark was rumored to be on the trading block during much of the first half of the season, but those rumors quieted as the trade deadline approached; I don't believe Clark is tradeable at this point. The Avs are faced with either buying him out or bringing him back for his final year with the hope that he can rebound. While I'd love to see him turn it around, I don't think we can expect it.
$3.5 million didn't seem like a lot to pay a decent defender who could score 35 points a year. It is a TON to pay a below-average defender. How the new GM handles the Clark is likely one of the keys to this offseason.
Next Up: Wojtek Wolski