Top 5+1 One-and-Done Lightning players: #5 Wendel Clark
One of six first overall draft selections to play for the Lightning, Clark didn’t even last a year.
One of our sibling sites, Habs Eyes on the Prize, recently did a series of the top five one-and-done Canadiens players since 2000. Since it seemed like a fun idea, we decided to do the same over here at Raw Charge. Except we’ll go all the way back to the start of the franchise. A little easier for us to do that than the Habs! Special thanks to Andrew Zadarnowski of HEOTP for having the idea and allowing us to run with it.
Note: Last year Raw Charge ran a series called “one and done” about players who played one game. This series is different, but go check that out too if you want.
#5: Wendel Clark, 1998-99
One of six first overall draft picks to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Wendel Clark didn’t even last a full year with the Lightning for his one-and-done. Originally billed as the Toronto Maple Leafs savior, he never got them to the promised land. Getting towards the end of his career, the Lightning got the last good season out of Clark.
As was the norm prior to the 2002-03 season, the Lightning weren’t a very good team. The ownership was less than stellar and the front office was sub-par. The team hadn’t gotten out of the Expansion Franchise doldrums other than one appearance in the playoffs in 1995-96. Left with trying to bribe players that were entering the twilights of their career, Wendel Clark was brought in.
Clark was given a contract that paid him $14 million with a team option for the next season for another $14 million. Imagine that. Granted, this was a time before the salary cap was a thing. But that was still a lot of money to pay for a player that had only 19 points in 47 games the previous season.
That off season, the Lightning had also parlayed the right to swap first-round picks with the San Jose Sharks to get the first-overall pick. Even with the addition of Vincent Lecavalier from that pick, the Lightning were not good. Clark was only able to add so much to the offense.
Darcy Tucker finished with the team lead in points with a grand total of 43 points in 82 games. Clark was second with 42 points in just 65 games. The team was so bad that only one skater finished with a positive plus-minus rating; Andrei Skopintsev. He finished a plus-one in 19 games. Want to know how bad that offense is? Tucker finished tied for 118th in NHL scoring and his 21 goals was tied for 69th.
Luckily for Clark, he didn’t have to suffer all the way to the end of the bad season where the Lightning finished dead last in the NHL with a 19-54-9 record. He was sent to the Detroit Red Wings in March along with a 6th round pick in exchange for goaltender Kevin Hodson and a 2nd round pick. Hodson did almost nothing positive for the Lightning. The 2nd round pick though was used on Sheldon Keefe. Injuries cut Keefe’s career short though and he is now the head coach of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
After the 1998-99 season, Clark played in just 33 more NHL games. He played 13 games with the Chicago Blackhawks and finished the year with 20 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs where his number has since been retired.
For the Lightning, they received the first-overall pick in the infamous 1999 draft with the Sedin brothers at the top of the draft. With the Canucks wheeling and dealing for picks so they could select both Sedins, the Lightning acquired the fourth-overall pick and two third-round picks. They then traded the fourth-overall pick to the New York Rangers for Dan Cloutier, Niklas Sundstrom, and New York’s 2000 first-round pick.