Under Pressure: Ryane Clowe

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“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the New Jersey Devils, we picked … Ryane Clowe.

If fans merely look at Ryane Clowe as a David Clarkson replacement, he’s suddenly off to a remarkably strong head start. Clowe probably won’t get off that easily, though.

Off-year or downward slope?

Maybe it was merely a matter of the Devils solely weighing his resurgence once he was traded to the New York Rangers, but overall, the 30-year-old’s 2013 campaign was a flop. It’s not that rare for a team to pardon an “off year” – especially for a gritty goal scoring forward – yet Devils fans might get antsy if they see a lot of the guy who endured a 28-game goalless streak with the San Jose Sharks.

Things didn’t get off to a great start, either. Clowe already suffered a lower-body injury in the preseason, and while he seems to be recovering, it’s a disturbing omen for some who worried about his recent injury issues (including concussion problems). If the “Devils are too old” narrative builds, he’ll likely slot in there somewhere after Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr.

Tough expectations

No doubt, Clowe fits the “tough guy who can score” bill well; one could make a legitimate argument he has a better chance to do that with regularity than Clarkson. Clowe’s the guy with two 22+ goal seasons and three more close to that 20-tally mark, after all.

The Devils are likely to expect him to drive more offense than the Sharks ever really did, though.

Clowe’s $4.85 million cap hit represents the third-highest annual mark for anyone on the team; only franchise stalwarts Travis Zajac ($5.75 million) and Patrik Elias ($5.5 million) are making more.

New Jersey likely won’t be satisfied unless Clowe affects the scoreboard and the physical side of the game, which could put a lot of pressure on the franchise’s new power forward.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.