2009 2nd Round Pick Kyle Clifford
On the eve of free agency, and into a long summer, let’s take some time out to get to know the 2009 Los Angeles Kings draft picks. First up is Kyle Clifford. Drafted in the second round (35th overall) by the LA Kings, Clifford is a tough, 6’1″, 200 pound left wing playing for the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Clifford is a tough two-way forward who still shows up on the score sheet. In 60 games played for Barrie, Clifford at 16 goals and 12 assists for 28 points. Clifford also represented Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championships (another thing Lombardi loves is international play). The standout stat for Clifford is the 133 penalty minutes (ranking 19th in the OHL) he chalked up.
Clifford is a great example of what Lombardi looks for in the draft: character, toughness and defensive responsibility. In this article, Jim Barber said of Clifford:
“…he wants to pattern himself after Ottawa Senators feisty forward Mike Fisher, who is a punishing hitter, tenacious forechecker, great on the penalty kill, but who also has solid offensive credentials.”
In a recent interview with LAKings.com, Clifford said he patterned his style of play to that of gritty winger Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins. The player that comes to mind when I see a bit more about Cliford is Wayne Simmonds. Clifford’s final final draft ranking was 182 (in all fairness others had him higher, even in the 1st round). However his toughness and character is a huge reason why Lombardi drafted him. Given the amount of time the Los Angeles Kings spend scouting their potential draft picks, it’s a safe bet that the pick of Kyle Clifford will pay off.
One glaring criticism of Clifford is his skating. According to International Scouting Services (ISS):
“Clifford is a straight ahead player with an edge. Skating is just OK – has heavy feet and needs to make sure he keeps his feet moving to get speed – skating has shown improvement over the season.”
The question for Kings fans would be: did we just draft yet another third liner? Given his statistics and scouting profile, it certainly appears so. While every Kings draftee will not end up playing for the team, there were quite a few other kids available who might have projected into our top six down the road. That said, drafting has been a strong suit for LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi. We might have a nice addition on our hands.
What do you think of the pick? Can Clifford be more than a third liner? Should we have picked Tomas Tartar who was still available?
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