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Fantasy Spin: Clarkson's return can boost your team

by Pete Jensen /

David Clarkson's 10-game suspension has been served. Now, he can go back to serving fantasy owners with top-notch category coverage.

The Toronto Maple Leafs power forward will be in the lineup Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets in what will be his first regular-season game with his new team. Clarkson, who signed a seven-year contract with the Maple Leafs in free agency, can finally put the preseason incident that led to his suspension behind him.

If you were one of the wise fantasy owners to select Clarkson in the late rounds of your draft and store him on your bench, this 29-year-old should give your team an immediate lift. On the flip side, if you chose to play it safe and leave Clarkson on the waiver wire, the clock is ticking.

Few players have provided fantasy owners with category coverage like David Clarkson over the past two seasons. (Photo: Getty Images)

In leagues that take points, penalty minutes and shots on goal into account, Clarkson simply needs to be owned. His current ownership in Yahoo leagues (36 percent) is far too low, and the fact he went undrafted on average in standard leagues is even more stunning. If you're not aware of his multi-category history for the New Jersey Devils, it's important you get yourself up to speed.

Clarkson has tallied 100-plus penalty minutes four times in his career and was on pace to exceed the century mark again in 2012-13. But that's only part of the story. As his career has progressed, his shots-per-game average has skyrocketed from 2.00 over his first 216 regular-season games to 2.85 over his past 210.

But wait, there's more. And this is the best part from a fantasy standpoint.

Clarkson was one of eight 40-point, 100-penalty minute producers during the 2011-12 campaign. If you apply that 40-point benchmark from two seasons ago to the 2012-13 season, the pro-rated benchmark is 23 points. Only five of the League's top 25 penalty minute producers during the shortened season (73-plus penalty minutes) met that 23-point benchmark. Clarkson (24 points, 78 penalty minutes in 2012-13) joined Milan Lucic, Wayne Simmonds, Evander Kane and Steve Ott in that elite fantasy company.

The Devils helped Clarkson's game evolve offensively and he looks to build off that success in joining a strong top-six arsenal in Toronto. The Maple Leafs have won seven of their first 10 games out of the gate and should benefit from adding a durable player in Clarkson. He's played in 210 of a possible 212 games over the past three regular seasons and brings physicality and touch of scoring to the table on any given night.

There's no question his lengthy ban put a dent into his fantasy ceiling for this season, but the bottom line is you still can't buy 40-to-50 points, 90-to-100 penalty minutes and 190 to 200 shots on the waiver wire. That's the type of potential Clarkson can add to your fantasy squad.

So take advantage of this reminder. A valuable commodity returns to the world of fantasy hockey on Friday in Columbus. Don't be the one to miss out.


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