What Does The Future Hold For Kyle Clifford?

He’s gained our affection.

He’s shown he can play.

He’s proven his bite is as big as his bark.

He’s Kyle Clifford and I’m not sure he fits on the Los Angeles Kings.

Since busting onto the NHL scene as a terrifying 19-year old out of Barrie in juniors, Clifford has seen a regular shift on the Kings bottom six. In his two seasons with the team he has given us thrills, commitment and the occasional goal. He has size, hockey sense, no fear and everything that makes him the prototypical player all NHL teams strive to have policing the ice from their fourth line.

He’s a fan favorite. He’s one of my favorites. During the 2010-2011 playoffs against San Jose he not only scored big goals, but scored as many of them than as any other King. Had that playoff run perhaps been a Kopitar and a Carter richer, the Kings may have gone beyond that first round and Kyle might have easily earned himself the moniker of ‘clutch’. Up until Kyle suffered a concussion in game two of the first round against Vancouver this year, taking him out of the lineup would have seemed utterly foolish. However, once he was healthy, he was unable to make it way back into the lineup save for a single game.

Why? Dwight Kings and Jordan Nolan.

Has the emergence of Dwight King, along with Jordan Nolan, two big bodied left wingers, nudged Kyle Clifford out of the picture? LA fans are salivating at the idea that they have their Cup team intact for next season and beyond, but despite what the Stanley Cup ring with the 2011-2012 season engraved on it will read, Kyle Clifford was not really a part of that Cup team.

King and Nolan have put the Kings in a position they haven’t known in recent or long term memory. The once bereft left side in now stacked with five players who naturally align there and that is without considering Dustin Brown for the wing where he has had the most success.

Simon Gagne, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown.

Of those six, Brown, Gagne and Nolan are the only ones I believed I’ve ever seen play on the right side and I’m only half-sure I’ve seen Nolan play the right.

Clifford, once a staple of the fourth line, will find himself battling for his Kings life come training camp. The guy who just a year ago made us calmer that Wayne Simmonds was traded away is now seemingly the odd man out for consistent duty.

The other day when Rich Hammond put together his salary structured roster for next season, Cifford wasn’t on it. Not that it means anything, because it doesn’t, but it highlights how easily the Kings roster could be filled, healthy scratches included, without Clifford as part of the equation. If Clifford doesn’t crack the top 23, then what? He certainly has no business playing in Manchester.

What do I think? I think Westgarth has no place on a Darryl Sutter coached team, particularly one with King and Nolan, both big enough to be considered heavy weights and willing to take on the necessary fisticuffs. I also think Brad Richardson will be traded before too long. There are also injuries to consider. There’s the chance King or Nolan regress. Wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen an annoying sophomore slump.

I also find myself wishing Gagne weren’t on a two year contract. That will change if he stays healthy, because boy can he score. But in a way I feel that he is the one guy cocking this is all up for Clifford.

This is a great problem to have. You can’t complain about an embarrassment of riches. Damn it all though, I want to see Kyle Clifford 41 times at Staples next season. Then again I wanted to see Wayne Simmonds play for years with a crown on his chest, and it’s amazing what a Stanley Cup can make you forget you ever wanted.

I’ve been going around on this issue in circles the last week. It’s giving me anxiety. So I’m turning to you. What do you see happening? Put together some mock lineups. Is Kyle Clifford on yours?



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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38 replies

  1. Yea, Gagne is the odd ball in this situation since I’m assuming he’ll earn 3rd line duties this coming season, a spot that King can fill if Gagne wasn’t under contract.
    I love Cliffy, but I think he should be sent down to the minors to sharpen his game, however. once Gagne is off the books in 2013 Cliffy can compete for at least the 4th line spot. He’ll be a RFA by then though

  2. Any team that has to sit Clifford and Richardson as healthy scratches is what I’d call “deep”.

    I say DO NOTHING until something must be done. Leave us not forget how relatively lucky we were to go through the playoffs without player loss — except, ironically enough, to Clifford and Gagne and (for reasons other than injury) Fraser.

    Once again, there’s no harm in delaying decisions. You needn’t stick your dick in EVERY slot that says, “Your wife away from home.”

  3. Clifford really disappointed me this year. Call it the sophomore slump, call it whatever you want, he underwhelmed. It was bad enough he couldn’t score or keep possession of the puck or avoid bonehead penalties – but he stopped winning fights as well! That was one area where I thought he would dominate for years and years to come.

    He’s still so young, so there’s plenty of time for him to improve, so I’m guessing the Kings give him another shot on the 4th line this upcoming year. But he was also bad enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was designated for assignment down in Manchester. I think next season is Clifford’s “prove it” year with the Kings.

  4. Its a good problem to have.

    Fact is, everyone on the roster has played better than him so he is right where he should be.

    I love the guy just as much as everyone else, but I don’t want him in the lineup just because I like the guy. The better player gets the minutes.k

  5. Brown – Kopitar – Williams
    Penner – Richards – Carter
    King – Stoll – Gagne
    Richardson – Fraser – Nolan (I just love Richardson’s work ethic)

    Healthy Scratches: Westgarth, Clifford, Lewis ( like Lewis’s work ethic also)

    I want to see a package deal taking clifford, penner, and a prospect for Bobby Ryan. So many options out of that. (honestly, I think that Ryan is affordable and within reason as long as the Ducks are willing to part)

    btw, I love that defense isn’t even a conversation, we know exactly what that is going to look like.

    • PS, I love the banner

      OUR KINGS, WHO HATH WON THE STANLEY CUP, HALLOWED IS THY GAME

      just noticed it

    • When the fuck did S & S become “Rich Hammonds Insider”?

      “Brown – Kopitar – Williams
      Penner – Richards – Carter
      King – Stoll – Gagne
      Richardson – Fraser – Nolan (I just love Richardson’s work ethic)”

      Take your line combination scenarios and stick to your Play Station, XBOX or fantasy leagues.

      Here we go again!

      New member of S & S Jason W thinking the Kings should sign Joke-a-nen, to play on the 2nd line, but forgetting Gagne is still here for another season. There are also some prospects who will also be getting a chance to make the NHL roster but Jason didn’t include that.

      “Signing Travis Moen because he is a LW.”

      Jason W on trades:
      ” Zach Bogosian for Voynov.”
      “MacArthur and Kulemin from Toronto for Bernier and Richardson.”
      “Paciorettyand Budaj for Bernier and Voynov”
      “Pacioretty for Voynov in a fucking heartbeat!!!!!”

      Jason W on Voynov “He reminds me of Alexei Zhitnik too much. Soft defensively, inconsistent on the offense attack. What does he bring to the team? I’m serious, what?”

      So here is my reply to KingOfRedlands, lasportscene, Bugarin who I haven’t see posting here until now.

      Bugarin When did Gagne become a 3rd line wing? Gagne is a top 6 forward, always has and always will. Gagne was not signed to play on the 3rd line, he was signed to add more scoring on the 1st or 2nd line.

      The only reason he was put on the 3rd or 4th line was because when he did comeback from his concussion which kept him out approx 5 months, there was no reason to breakup Penner-Richards-Carter.

      You want Trevor Lewis to be a healthy scratch in place of Nolan? I am not sure what you were watching, but Trevor Lewis is one of the better checking forwards the Kings have. Lewis has speed, and now looks like he has added some scoring into his game.

      Lewis is also one of the better penalty killers the Kings have.

      Nolan can still benefit by playing another season in Manchester. King will still have to compete for a roster spot, just like Nolan.”

      Nolan did show he is capable of playing with the Kings, but will need to play more minutes, which in the AHL might be a better place to start again.

      lasportsscene “Clifford really disappointed me this year. Call it the sophomore slump, call it whatever you want, he underwhelmed. It was bad enough he couldn’t score or keep possession of the puck or avoid bonehead penalties – but he stopped winning fights as well! That was one area where I thought he would dominate for years and years to come.

      He’s still so young, so there’s plenty of time for him to improve, so I’m guessing the Kings give him another shot on the 4th line this upcoming year. But he was also bad enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was designated for assignment down in Manchester. I think next season is Clifford’s “prove it” year with the Kings.”

      Clifford also was playing for Terry Murray and we saw how once Wayne Simmonds was out of that system all of a sudden he started to get better, rather than worse. Clifford was probably told not to get into so many fights while Murray was coaching the beginning of the season.

      Clifford played in pretty much every game after Sutter took over. Again the only reason why he did not play after his concussion suffered against Vancouver was because it was a pre-caution. Nolan and King filled in fine for Clifford, but Clifford is a much better defensive forward, than King or Nolan.

      Why would you send Clifford down to Manchester, if he is playing in his projected position? He will stay with the NHL roster, and Sutter will get a chance to put his own system in place, and Clifford will be that much better for it. Dean Lombardi loves Clifford.

      Remember that Nolan and King both played most of their careers in Manchester, while Clifford only played 7 playoff games in Manchester after this OHL teams season was over.

      Clifford and Nolan are on entry level contracts and become RFA’s after next season. King is a RFA currently so he has no contract with the Kings currently. His rights remain with the Kings, however if a team makes King an offer and Lombardi doesn’t match it, King is gone.

      Will that happen? It is a possibility.

      KingOfRedlands “I want to see a package deal taking clifford, penner, and a prospect for Bobby Ryan. So many options out of that. (honestly, I think that Ryan is affordable and within reason as long as the Ducks are willing to part).”

      Not sure what you are smoking, but why would Anaheim want Clifford, Penner and a prospect for Bobby Ryan?

      Ryan makes 5.1 million and is under contract until 2016/2017. Ryan also scores 30+ goals per season, along averaging 62 pts per season.

      Penner and Clifford combined don’t come close to Ryan, and Penner especially after his horrible regular seasons while with the Kings.

      Penner is on a 1 year deal for 3.25 million and wouldn’t improve Anaheim’s team or lineup.
      Clifford is going into the 3rd year of his entry level contract, and again he wouldn’t improve Anaheim’s lineup.

      What prospect would you trade in a package deal? That makes no sense any way you look at it.

      Most teams usually don’t trade within their division, however the may trade within their conference.

      I want to see Clifford get a full year under Sutter, after 2 years with Murray. We all saw Wayne Simmonds all of a sudden scoring goals, and Matt Moulson also once out of the Murray prevent defense mentality.

      There are still big name UFA’s out there and who knows where they might end up.

      Most of these questions about which players on the roster from last season will be in a battle for a permanent spot will be played out once training camp starts.

      So now I can be accused of a “Charlie Sheenesque rant” according to one persons opinion, and honestly I could give a rats ass about it kingsfaninportland.

      I don’t think I am smarter or know more than everyone who posts here.

      If you comment on a topic, and I disagree, then I try to make an argument against someone else opinion. I expect the same thing to happen to me just so you know.

      Let the bashing begin! Go ahead I can take it.

      • I enjoy talking shit just as much as the next guy, I just tend not to aim it at those I’m “with.” But I laughed at everything you said. I get where you’re coming from. What I said last time was just to give you a little bit as well. Some of the comments are ridiculous, but I believe that’s partly what makes it enjoyable for me. Some people you know you can talk hockey with, others you know you can get a chuckle out of.

      • Call us Hammond again and we’ll prove it true by banning you for saying things we don’t like :)

      • I agree that Gagne when healthy is a top 6 forward and believe that Lewis and King have earned their playing time ahead of Gagne, Clifford and Richardson. Kyle may get left on the bench and that’s a shame for him but, a good problem to have.
        I worry about putting Gagne on the 2nd line and Richards and Carter getting used to him and then he goes down again with a concussion again.
        I think Gagne would do very well with Stoll and Lewis on the 3rd line.
        Weaker lines against them should allow for more points from Stoll, Lewis and Gagne.
        Richardson, Nolan, Westgarth and Clifford are going to be battling for 4th line time with Fraser, that’s a good thing though.
        I don’t know if Parse even fits into the Kings plans anymore.

    • Lewis earned his spot on the 3rd or 4th line, during the playoffs especially. I think it’s Gagne that has to earn his spot now!
      Clifford is no higher than a 4th liner right now and Westgarth needs to go somewhere else.
      Richardson and Gagne are the guys who need to earn playing time as far as I’m concerned.
      Kyle needs to be more aggressive on offense and going to the net is something he really needs to concentrate on, other than that his game is fine, especially considering he had at least two concussions last year. Look what happened to Gagne, one concussion and he missed almost the entire season. Kyle could be a 3rd liner someday but, he’ll never be Wayne Simmonds that should be obvious by now.

  6. “I want to see a package deal taking clifford, penner, and a prospect for Bobby Ryan”

    Do you really think Anaheim would trade Ryan to get Dustin Penner back?!?

    Beware of Torontosis — the idiotic notion that other teams are salivating to take your cast-offs in exchange for their star players.

    Dean Lombardi understands the awful — but essential — truth: To get your dick blown you must blow the other guy’s dick — that is, give value for value.

    We paid plenty for Richards and Carter. Winning the Cup makes it seem worth it. Will we feel the same five years from now? (I will . . . but I don’t know about you other shits.)

    • For our first cup? i think everyone will feel that it was worth it, no matter what happens in the next decade

  7. Nope, he’s not on mine. then again, I’ve never been a huge Clifford fan. Loved the simmonds-richardson-clifford in the 2011 playoffs, obviously. But Clifford has never done too much to impress me (other than a breakaway goal i vaguely recall this season). He’s not very good at fighting, and he’s had some concussions that cast a shadow of doubt on the rest of his career. Not to say that he isn’t an NHL player, but I just don’t see him as a regular for next season. I choose Richardson (who i’ve always felt is underated) over Clifford.

  8. As my often used profile picture suggests, I love this player. This is the jersey I got for Christmas in his rookie season. The first game I had been to with my dad in about ten years we saw him net his first goal.

    I have bias.

    That being put up front– I feel King is a lock and will be for a long time. Lewis logs big PK minutes and is huge in them. Frasier has become a dependable center. Nolan, Clifford, and Richardson all fall in to the same category of tons of heart, flashes of talent, and moments in the dog house for bad penalties and turnovers. I dont covet any one over the others even though they have different strengths because they are all equally consistent or inconsistent depending on your outlook.

    I would love to see Clifford go through a training camp and a season with Sutter and see how that elevates his game.

    Clifford and Nolan both create a lot of turnovers on the forecheck. Nolan is young, hungry and improving quickly.

    richardson has moments of awesomness then takes a bad penalty in the offensive zone.

    Of all them, if you had to make a trade, I go with Richardson. But I am bias. Doesn’t mean I’m wrong. This feels like last seasons problem of too many good defenseman. Very nice problems to have.

  9. Cliffy is young enough to change his style of game, and I think this is a must. I remember his playoff strengths a couple years ago, and I also remember who else was on our team at that time influencing Cliffy’s game. Do the words “net hound” ring a bell? That’s right, captain bitch himself, Smyth. If Cliffy’s game is played like Smyth’s, he can propel himself back into the line up and stay there.

  10. Cliffy like every player has to earn a spot and contribute in ways that surpasses competitors for his spot and opponent players. Should he deliver consistently then he plays. Sink or swim.
    Players know that. He increases his value so that he earns a spot in the NHL for a long career. I say no trade or drop down but give him fair chances to prove he gets a spot.

  11. Of Richardson, Clifford, King, Westgarth and Nolan, I believe that Nolan is the only one that is waiver exempt. The Kings will have to send one of them down to reach the 23 man limit. I could see Richardson traded for a low pick or Westgarth waived to play in Manchester. If he is picked, no real loss. The Kings won’t lose Clifford via waivers, he will be on the roster to start the season.

  12. Brown – Kopitar – Williams
    Gagne– Richards – Carter
    Penner– Stoll – Lewis
    King – Fraser – Nolan

    my only worry is penners work ethic and gagnes health. penner did have a good season once he split with his wife. that could have been what was keeping him distracted. but he always seems to phone it in early on. we’ll see which penner shows up. as far as gagne goes, its simple… healthy= easily on top 2 lines, injured= no good to us.

    so the 2nd, 3rd and 4th line LWs could be rotated in almost any way. penner, gagne, king, clifford, richardson.. they all have different qualities to em, good and bad.

  13. Dustin Brown ($3.175m) / Anze Kopitar ($6.800m) / Justin Williams ($3.650m)
    Dustin Penner ($3.250m) / Mike Richards ($5.750m) / Jeff Carter ($5.273m)
    Dwight King ($1.125m) / Jarret Stoll ($3.250m) / Simon Gagne ($3.500m)
    Jordan Nolan ($0.532m) / Colin Fraser ($0.825m) / Trevor Lewis ($0.725m)
    Kyle Clifford ($0.870m) / Brad Richardson ($1.175m)

    Maybe?

  14. With the success of that 5 minute power play, I’d like to see:
    Brown/Kopitar/Carter
    Gagne/Richards/Williams

    It would be interesting.

  15. I like Cliffy too and would rotate him and Nolan. I think Richardson and Westgarth are gone. This is Sutter’s team now for a full year, his call on who goes where in training camp. The first 2 lines are the top 6 players, Penner Stoll and Lewis on the 3rd and Nolan/Clifford , Fraser King on the 4th. That of course, changes if the rumors of Doan being sought out by DL are true. Then you have another issue…

  16. I have lots of things to say, many replies to retort, but it’s the 4th, I’m drunk and having a blast and the genius comments for consumption will be preliminarily delayed until the morrow.

    Happy Independance Day my lovely Kings brothers and fools!

  17. Trade him, it’s really the only way. Once Gagne leaves (or gets injured) it wont be Clifford who takes his spot in the lineup. It will be Toffoli.

    • When Gagne gets hurt, King will move up to the third line and Clifford can be added to the fourth line. I think Richardson is the odd man out if the Kings want to keep Westgarth.

  18. Cliffford’s main issue is discipline. But, he is a young man and has shown he can play. He and Westgarth played well vs. SJ in ’11, but Westgarth seems the more likely to fall off the roster, as his limits are known and he has been replaced. Clifford will still get many regular season games to show that he can take and execute DS’s instruction. If he does, then he will have a roll.

    Like Drewiske, Richardson has no significant “exchange value” – he is more valuable remaining with the team than the likely draft pick he would bring. Just ask: would another team make an offer to the Kings with the goal of acquiring either player? Unlikely. Where he or Clifford (or even Drewiske) could be lost would be if either of them are requested or
    offered as a “closing bonus” in a trade involving other players.

    .

  19. Happy 4th bitches!

  20. I just don’t know how you change that cup roster. kopi line is locked. Richards line is locked as long as that chemistry and penner2.0 is jellin. I don’t understand taking lewis off that 3rd line, that line was great and should be a lock. And I think King’s got a solid career here ahead of him, don’t see him ever lookin back. So by default I think Gagne falls to that same 4th line spot with Frase and Nolan.

    So yea, for me that leaves Cliff out, but I think there are a couple spots that could open up between injuries or slumps. If we are the same dominant team without any spots opening up I think you send him to the a just to keep him playin. It’s a weird situation but the best or problems.

    I guess because of this gridlock I wouldn’t be shocked if Cliff was moved, but I think the fact that he made Simmonds moveable means that he’s in the future plans. Especially not knowing what gagne’s status will be after this coming season.

  21. I also jsut love Cliffy and he must stay! He is exaclty the type of player that works with our King’s team. Although he was out for most of the playoffs I count him as an integral part of the team that won the Cup, as we needed to get through the season to get a chance at the Cup.
    I see this team, with riches to spare, being able to rotate in a few of the players.. as long as everyone is healthy. We know that usually doesn’t happen for a full season and so we will adjust. Cliffy fits in on the fourth or even third line when he is playing his best. I hope he has a Super conditioning summer and shows up at camp as one who Cannot be dismissed.

    And yes this great Kings Team won the Stanley Cup..each player forever endeared to our hearts. I do still miss our Nightrain and wish him a Great NHL carrer.
    GO KINGS GO!!!
    WWTC!!!

  22. I like Clifford, I like the way that he plays over the course of the season. With Gagne, you always have to be wondering if he can really take that next hit to the head. I would hate to see Clifford down in Manchester just to keep him playing, but sitting as much as he is playing isn’t going to help his game either. I’m not sure I see Westgarth making the team, and I think that we are well enough without him. Richardson might bring more in a trade at this point than Clifford will. I waiting to see how Clifford does in camp with Sutter, but I think (hope) he remains with the team

  23. i think its gonna be interesting to see who gets left wing on the second line. Penner? I’m an optimist, but he might just start playing like he played during the last regular season (sometimes he shows up to make good plays, but most the time doesn’t). I’m more interested to see how Gagne, Richards, and Carter look together. I remember at the beginning of the season Gagne and Richards had some good chemistry going till injuries. Loving this depth!!

  24. Just a thought but how about
    Gagne/Kopi/Williams
    Penner/Carter/ Brown
    King/Richards/Lewis
    Colonel-Nolan/ Stoll/Richardson
    Now what team could possibly match our centers?

    • I mean, Carter is a natch center. We could roll four lines at any time, any situation. Now let’s say Toffoli can earn a spot (yes, longshot) drop Lewis to fourth line. Our Manch. D-men are embarassingly deep ( also including Forbort & Gravel [NCAA]). Package Richards and Muzzin (I like Deslauriers more) and a goalie, Jones, Bernier, or Zatkoff for a high power RW to move Brownieback to LW.

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