David Clarkson believes he can get back to playing the same way he did with the New Jersey Devils now that he’s on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Clarkson expects to make his Columbus debut Saturday evening at home against his first NHL team.
Columbus (26-30-4) acquired Clarkson from Toronto on Thursday in exchange for injured right wing Nathan Horton in a trade of bad contracts. Clarkson was a major disappointment in two seasons with the Maple Leafs since signing a free-agent deal with a salary cap hit of $5.25 million, also through 2018-19.
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The winger totaled 26 points over the last two seasons. He had at least 22 in five of his six full seasons with New Jersey, with a career-best 46, including 30 goals, in 2011-12 when the Devils (25-27-10) won the Eastern Conference title.
He believes the Blue Jackets’ style of play suits him more than how he was used with Toronto.
"I need to get back to the same role and play the same amount I was playing in Jersey, and I think I’m capable of doing what I did in Jersey," he told the Blue Jackets’ official website. "That’s the reason Columbus was a good fit for me."
Clarkson has yet to beat the Devils in regulation with two shootout wins before going 0-3-1 in the next four matchups. He has one point in those six games.
Columbus seeks to end a four-game slide after placing left wing Matt Calvert on injured reserve Friday with a concussion suffered in Thursday’s 5-2 home loss to Montreal.
The Blue Jackets did activate top goalie Sergei Bobrovsky after he missed 15 games with a groin injury, though it appears he will back up Curtis McElhinney.
Center Brandon Dubinsky, meanwhile, is reportedly out indefinitely after suffering a concussion while scoring Thursday. Dubinsky, who played only 50 seconds, has eight points in his last eight games.
"He’s usually a catalyst for our group as far as the energy, his speed, his tenacity and how we play so when you take him out of the lineup, that has an effect on our group," coach Todd Richards said.
Columbus trailed 3-1 after one period against the Canadiens. The Blue Jackets have been outscored 9-2 in that period during this 0-3-1 slide.
”Another slow start,” Richards said. ”It’s disappointing because it’s partly my responsibility to get the guys ready to play.”
Columbus hasn’t scored on its last 17 power plays, and ranks last since the All-Star break in that department at 5.3 percent (4 for 38).
New Jersey has been outscored 12-4 in a three-game road slide. The Devils capped a 4-1-1 homestand with Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Boston.
Travis Zajac and Jordin Tootoo scored in a 2:09 span in the third period to rally the Devils from a two-goal deficit before they fell nine points behind the Bruins in the race for the last wild-card spot in the conference.
”We fought back and found a way to get a point,” Zajac said, adding this was a game the Devils needed to win. ”Too bad we didn’t get the extra point.”
Michael Cammalleri has seven points in a five-game run for New Jersey.
These Metropolitan Division rivals have three meetings left after the Devils won 3-2 at home Nov. 1.