“Since you can't clutch and grab or use your stick, the game is so much faster now,” Nelson said. “It makes it a lot more difficult to block shots. The teams that do it the best make it very difficult to score on them.”
Clark is more than a shot blocker. A sixth-round pick 17 years ago, Clark is a solid defender that can contribute on the offensive end.
In 681 NHL games, Clark has scored 185 points, including 45 goals. He's scored 15 points in 15 games with the Barons, highlighted by 14 assists.
“Anytime a defenseman makes a play that gives your forwards an opportunity to score it takes a lot of pressure off them,” Clark said. “If the D can make that first or second pass and chips in, it's huge.”
Clark, from Wapella, Saskatchewan, is in his 16th pro season. Two years ago, he was one of Tampa Bay's top defenders on a team that lost to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
“It really helps to have a veteran presence,” Nelson said. “At this level, there will be growing pains for the younger guys. The older guys can really help. They lead by example. They lead in the locker room. The young guys grow up a lot quicker.”
Playing in the AHL for the first time in eight years, Clark is a free agent. He can sign with any of the 30 NHL teams.
“I'm not paying attention to that,” Clark said. “I'm down here. A lot of teams went with their young kids. Things will play out the way they're supposed to. If I'm worried about that it can take away from my game. I've just got to approach it one game at a time, have as much fun as I can and help this team.”