2015 Season Review: Kyle Clifford
Still young, still could improve. (Maybe.)
Kyle Clifford is more than your average enforcer, though he's certainly no stranger to standing up for his teammates. Points-wise, Clifford set another career high tallying six goals and nine assists, nearly double what he did last year (in nine additional games). And having missed only two games, Clifford managed to stay relatively healthy this year, which, considering his concussion history, is a huge positive in my book.
Clifford's also shown that with better linemates, he isn't necessarily a possession drag. Clifford had a career high CF% of 54.3%, probably due in part by a career high in shot attempts. Statistically speaking, he had his best season since 2011-12, in which he again played 80 games. Interestingly enough, he had a slightly higher shooting percentage at that time but slightly less shooting luck. Clifford is only 24 years old so he still technically has room for improvement.
His son and his dog are also super adorable, so that's another plus.
Puppies and babies together are never not cute.
Clifford has a tendency to take a lot of penalties. In fact, he led the Los Angeles Kings in PIM for the fifth straight year - that is since every year that he's been on the roster. No one was even close to matching Clifford's 89 minutes; Jarret Stoll, who had 58 minutes, was closest. Part of it is fighting; for the second year in a row, he led the team in major penalties. Jordan Nolan broke Clifford's streak in 2013, but otherwise, he's always led the team in major PIM. Clifford also took more minor penalties than any forward other than Stoll, though, and didn't draw many the other way.
The other negatives are less negative if you temper expectations. He's a fourth liner, and that's exactly where his scoring rates and his possession numbers put him.
Kyle Clifford teamed up with Anze Kopitar and Brayden McNabb for his second goal and the eventual game winner in the season series sweep of the Colorado Avalanche.
Clifford was a pending RFA but signed a 5-year contract extension earlier this season for $8 million ($1.6 million AAV) so he's likely going to be around for a while.
I don't want to hold his lack of offensive skills against him too much. And dude works hard and is clearly really good in an energy role, which is fine. However, he really does take far too many penalties. Constantly putting your team down a man is just a huge negative. I give Clifford a C.
How would you grade Kyle Clifford's season?