On a team filled with so much talent and skill, it’s crucial that the Toronto Maple Leafs re-sign Kyle Clifford this off-season.
For those of you who remember watching the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, (it feels like years since they last played) the team lacked toughness, until Kyle Clifford arrived.
Clifford, who was acquired as the extra piece in the Jack Campbell trade, may have been unknown to Leaf fans.
The 35th overall draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft had been in the LA Kings organization for the last decade, so it’s very easy to have not known much about him before his arrival.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Clifford
The Ayr, ON native was never a goal scorer. With 61 goals in 676 career games, Clifford plays the role as the the modern day fourth liner: Dump and chase, hard hits, fights and chips in a few points sporadically.
Toughness is a skill that is limited on the Leafs if you look down the roster. Zach Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen are the only two other forwards on Toronto you’d expect to engage physically. However, you’d much rather have them use their hands for scoring instead of fighting.
That’s what makes Clifford so important. In only 16 games, Clifford already has three fights with Toronto.
In an interview on the Fan 590’s Good Show, Brian Burke outlined what Clifford brings:
“The Leafs do not have a player with this player’s appetite for combat, so he’s a valuable addition…they don’t have a proper response for when their top players get drilled and now they do. I think this is not a throw in. I think he’s an important acquisition. I know other teams in the division are going, ‘Ah geez, they were much easier to play before they had this guy.’”
Burke may have a soft spot for grit, but in this situation, he’s completely right and Clifford has continued to show his teammates how valuable he can be.
As a two-time Stanley Cup champion, Clifford understands playoff success. This ‘immature’ Leafs team needs as many past champions as possible to show them what it takes to win a Cup, and that’s why it’s so important to bring Clifford back next year.
Clifford brings a unique game to this skillful squad, and as a die-hard Leafs fan growing up, maybe he’ll even sign a hometown discount and help Dubas out.