When you look at all of the offensive talent on this roster for the Los Angeles Kings, one of the first names that pops into your head certainly is not Kyle Clifford. Yet, early on this season, Clifford has been a key contributor for the Kings, who have returned to their stagnant offense of last season.
Clifford is known more for dropping the gloves than putting up points on the stat sheet. This season, we’ve seen him do a little bit of both.
In his two full seasons with the Kings, Clifford has posted just 26 points combined. To go along with that, he has over 260 penalty minutes over that same span. So it isn’t too difficult to see what kind of role Clifford was expected to be playing on this club. And he was succeeding in the role he was supposed to be filling, as an enforcer-type.
This season, though, Clifford has been seeing minutes with the top line. It hasn’t always been pretty, but he already has five points for the year. That’s tops on the team heading into Monday night’s sixth game of the year. Even early on, few could have expected that to occur.
Even with his success, though, it’s still puzzling as to why Clifford is seeing minutes in the top six. He simply doesn’t have the offensive talent to keep up for a full season. He’s too clumsy and takes too many penalties to prove effective there for the long term. His physical presence is welcome, though.
It’s hard to imagine that Clifford will remain on the top line for the remainder of the season. But he is proving himself to be a valuable part of this team as the Kings try and sort out their offensive issues this season. Having as many points as penalty minutes has to be considered an achievement.
The Kings’ top guns will find their game eventually and force Clifford down back into the depths of the lineup. But right now, he’s providing value for the Kings and should easily eclipse his career high of 14 points this season.