The days of David Clarkson being regarded as a PIMs-only fantasy asset are long gone.
Clarkson still has accumulated 11 PIMs through his first nine games, but his ability to produce at least a point in eight of those games has taken the fantasy world by storm. The 28-year-old right wing came into his own offensively last season for the New Jersey Devils, and Tuesday night was another example of the fantasy difference-maker he has become.
Operating alongside veteran Patrik Elias and sophomore Adam Henrique, who returned to the lineup last week after being sidelined due to injury, Clarkson reeled off two goals and an assist in the Devils' 3-1 victory over the rival New York Rangers. Clarkson and Elias (10 points in nine games), a duo that has vastly outperformed New Jersey's top line tandem of Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac this season, fueled the Devils' offense again by having a hand in all three of the team's goals.
So on top of averaging upwards of a PIM per game, Clarkson is the anchor of the Devils' front line, leading the club with seven goals, 12 points, five power-play points and 38 shots on goal.
The consensus among fantasy owners entering 2012-13 was that Clarkson would not duplicate last season's production -- especially in a shortened season. Even after a six-category fantasy outburst (30 G, 16 A, 138 PIM, 16 PPP, 228 SOG, 169 hits), it was easy to view him as a potential one-hit wonder, considering he had never scored more than 32 points in a single season prior to 2011-12.
Clarkson was selected on average in the late 10th round of drafts (116th overall pick), making him easily one of the biggest fantasy steals League-wide in hindsight. He's one of only four players with 11-plus PIM and 11-plus points this season, with Evgeni Malkin, Mike Ribeiro and Vincent Lecavalier being the others.
Kudos to fantasy owners who believed in Clarkson after his well-rounded display a season ago, as it's paid dividends early and often this season. While Clarkson is vastly owned in Yahoo! leagues (78 percent), he is a fantasy asset worth targeting via trade if you can identify scoring depth and category coverage as some of your needs from the right wing position.
Follow Pete Jensen on Twitter: @NHLJensen
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