26-Year-Old Left Wing – Los Angeles Kings
Kyle Clifford Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $8 million contract extension with the Kings in February 2015.
Clifford (upper body) is expected to return Tuesday night against the Devils, NHL.com reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Clifford has led the Kings in PIMs in each of his four seasons, though his totals have dropped in each season. He's one of the lowest possession-time forwards on the Kings and finished with the lowest point totals among regulars, but doesn't seem to be on the verge of losing his spot in the lineup. He'll return in a bottom-six role for the Kings.
Clifford parlayed some strong play at the start of the season into a regular role with the Kings, posting 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 48 games. He's young enough (22) to take a step forward offensively, but doesn't ever figure to put up more than a dozen goals in the NHL. He'll give the Kings some young legs, but limited offensive upside in a third or fourth line role again.
Clifford had a forgettable regular season (five goals and seven assists in 81 games) before suffering a concussion in the Kings' first playoff game and playing in just two postseason games after that. He's still just 21 and has the ability to move up to a third-line role, but the Kings have a host of left wingers competing with Clifford for a roster spot. He has the ability to put up double-digit goal totals, but the emergence of guys like Kyle Westgarth and Jordan Nolan muddy his outlook.
Clifford filled the pugilist role for the Kings with Wayne Simmonds moving up the lineup and rewarded his owners with 141 PIMs in 76 games. He's never going to score much, though he did tally five points in six playoff games, and doesn't see much ice time but figures to be a nightly presence in the Kings' lineup for those looking for some goon points.
Clifford has the size (6'1", 200 pounds) to play in the NHL right now and could conceivably push for a roster spot this year after spending the last three years in the OHL if the Kings decide to add some grit to their lineup but his offensice game isn't ready for the NHL just yet. He's likely ticketed for the AHL this season.
Clifford was a bit of a reach when the Kings took him in the second round of the '09 entry draft but the Kings like his work ethic. His future is more of a rugged, physical forward who doesn't figure to light the lamp very often.