Monday, April 28, 2008

2007-08 Rink Wrap: Chris Clark

From Backstrom to Steckel, we're taking a quick look at and grading the 2007-08 season for every* player who laced 'em up for the Caps during the campaign (and is still with the team) with an eye towards 2008-09. Next up, Chris Clark.

Contract Status: $2.63m cap hit in 2008-09; UFA after 2010-11
Age (as of October 1, 2008): 32
NHL Seasons (including 2007-08): 6+
2007-08 Regular Season Stats: 18 games played, 5 goals, 4 assists, even, 43 PIMs
Key Stat: Missed eight games with a head injury and 56 (plus seven in the playoffs) with a groin injury

The Good: Less than a year after missing just two games after having the roof of his mouth shattered, Captain Cadaver took an Alex Ovechkin slapper square in the ear, but was back on the ice in less than two weeks... if Clark isn't the most courageous player in the NHL, he's certainly on the shortlist. He was also starting to find his scoring touch prior to the groin injury, as he had all nine of his points (5 goals, 4 assists) in his final 11 games and he ended the season with a team-best 17.2 shooting percentage.

The Bad: Besides the obvious health issues, Clark had a slow start to the season, as it took him seven games to score his first point (though much of that may be attributable to being re-cast as a third-liner rather than opposite AO on the top trio), and throughout his shortened season he found himself in the penalty box far too often (he had just 23 fewer penalty minutes in 18 games in 2007-08 than he had in 74 games in 2006-07). In fact, Clark took the most penalties per sixty minutes of ice time of any regular (yes, including John Erskine and Donald Brashear), and had the worst penalties taken-to-drawn ratio on the team - not a good combination, especially from your captain.

The Vote: It's a little unfair given how few games he played, but rate Clark on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Question(s): Assuming he's 100% healthy, what role do you see Clark playing next season? What will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?

If you've missed any of the previous 2007-08 Rink Wraps, click here, get caught up, and vote - polls will stay open for a while.

* And by "every," we mean every one who played more than just a handful of games.

16 comments:

Chuck G. said...

I see him returning to the third line next year. The only way he plays on the top two is if Kozlov starts slow or the Coaches still juggle the wing opposite Semin on the 2nd line. If Clark is on the third line all season, he'll get a 10 in my book with a good +/- rating and around 20-25 goals and around the same number of assists. Plus the untimely penalties need to come down.

Jimmy Jazz said...

I gave him a six. He was pretty average this season -- at at least when he played.
As long he's healed next season, I think he should remain our captain. The man has heart. He's a true leader.

Rage said...

I want to see him back on the first or second line. Nobody on our team pots rebounds and creates traffic like him. Brooksie may get there one day, but not yet.

Tyler said...

I have no idea how to grade him. Were 'incomplete' an option, he'd get that of course. No one played well in that first stretch...

Mike in SF (currently in Bogota Colombia) said...

If Boudreau was the kind of guy who unfailingly put his top three scorers on the top line, Clark wouldn't belong, but Boudreau likes to spread his scorers. Clark could make a lot of sense on line as some protection for Backstrom (Ovechkin can protect himself). I don't much care for Kozlov on line 1 -- I'd rather see Clark or Laich as the RW there.

~Mark said...

Clarkie's health is by far the biggest question from here forward.
If he can get and stay healthy, he'll return to 20+ goal form. If he's not healthy by September, I'd say his career is in serious jeopardy. This is George McPhee's biggest post-July concern this summer. How can you replace Chris Clark????

Bowler said...

I'm with Mark on this one. As I recall, his injury wasn't called a groin pull, or by any of the 'standard' labels I have heard. On the contrary, it was called a 'groin tendon'. I am wondering if this is the kind of thing that is career-ending. Does anyone know more about this kind of Big Ouch? Sounds like the kind of body part that is essential for hockey players.

dmg said...

I gave him a '5' since he was neither great nor terrible when he played and there was no option to give an 'incomplete'.

I'd like to see Clark return as a third line player, perhaps to crash the net on the number two PP unit as well. Despite his 30 goal season his crash and bang style and defense are his strengths. To me, he's really a very good checking line wing/grinder who can help out on offense.

Marky Narc said...

I gave Clark a 4, but obviously the missed time factors into that. I think part of the problem here is not really know what we want to do with him. He had such an amazing season that first year playing on AO's line (a 10 out of 10 season if there ever was one), but then was asked to do something different this year. Inevitably, playing first line minutes one season and third line minutes the next will see a decrease in point production no matter what. So I think it's unfair to go by stats alone.

If it were up to me, I would put Clark on the third line and just understand that he's not out there to net 30 goals again (or even 20). Give me solid shut-down defensive play and less penalties and his end of year rating goes up.

sonia said...

@bowler: a groin tendon is a part of the anatomy, not an injury, so it's kind of hard to say based on that alone. but i can tell you that those muscles are indeed super important for skating.

JP said...

... and, no doubt, for scoring off-ice.

exwhaler said...

I gave Clark a 4, mostly because of his struggles early in the season. The Pettinger-Gordon-Clark line was supposed to be a scoring checking line, but nobody produced and their defense struggled. It makes me wonder whether Clark can actually score when playing defensive hockey. Part of that may have been Hanlon's coaching, but that's hard to judge.

If Clark's healthy, I think his value to the team next season will be his versatility. He may seem to be a perfect checking line forward, but brings the same things to the scoring lines that Brooks Laich did in the playoffs, only better and with a few more goals. I wouldn't be surprised if Gabby plays with the chemistry a bit, keeping the Laich-Backstrom-Semin line together and putting Clark and Nylander with Ovechkin. Clark had chemistry with Ovie in the past, and I've always thought he belonged there more than Zubrus. Of course, that leaves Kozlov out in the cold, or Gabby could put Kozlov with Semin. Or he could reunite Ovechkin-Backstrom-Kozlov and drop Clark to the second to take Laich's role. Or Clark could help mentor Fehr on a budding third scoring line ('course, one of them would have to convert to LW).

Options...gotta love 'em.

breed16 said...

Hard to judge based on this year, but I gave him a 4. My lacrosse coach used to say (think he stole this from Parcells): "You can't help the club in the tub." I agree.

Clark is the missing ingredient from our top 2 lines. Plug him on the wing opposite either Semin or Ov, with Kozlov filling the other RW spot, and you can bump Laich to the third line where he is much needed.

I don't know what this injury is exactly but I don't like the sound of it. Fix the damn ice already, before this happens to someone else!

Anonymous said...

About the penalty minutes.. He took 17 or 18 in one play. So subtract those and he's pretty average. I think it was a fighting/instigator/misconduct combo when he was standing up for Semin one game..

dmg said...

anon,

it was a game against the Flyers (may have been Boudreau's first as coach) where Clark got the 17 (2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, 10 minute misconduct); he was responding to hit on Boyd Gordon.

Burton said...

I presume he'll be healthy going into next year. I'd like to see a little more life and production out of the third line, and Clark plays a role in this. Perhaps he moves into the first line, allowing Kozlov to possibly spark the third line. There needs to be more going on in front of the goalie, especially when Ovie is on the ice.

Truth be told, coaches juggle lines throughout the season. I see Clark one of the primary movers here.