[...] In his two seasons with the team he has given us thrills, commitment and the occasional goal. He has size, hockey sense, no fear and everything that makes him the prototypical player all NHL teams strive to have policing the ice from their fourth line He’s a fan favorite. [...] During the 2010-2011 playoffs against San Jose he not only scored big goals, but scored as many of them than as any other King. [...] Up until Kyle suffered a concussion in game two of the first round against Vancouver this year, taking him out of the lineup would have seemed utterly foolish. However, once he was healthy, he was unable to make it way back into the lineup save for a single game.
Why? Dwight Kings and Jordan Nolan.
Or: he was still concussed.
Has the emergence of [King and Nolan] nudged Kyle Clifford out of the picture? LA fans are salivating at the idea that they have their Cup team intact for next season and beyond, but despite what the Stanley Cup ring with the 2011-2012 season engraved on it will read, Kyle Clifford was not really a part of that Cup team.
If you mean cup run, I mostly agree. He’s certainly a part of the cup team.
King and Nolan have put the Kings in a position they haven’t known in recent or long term memory. The once bereft left side in now stacked with five players who naturally align there and that is without considering Dustin Brown for the wing where he has had the most success.
Simon Gagne, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford, Dustin Penner and Dustin Brown.
Of those six, Brown, Gagne and Nolan are the only ones I believed I’ve ever seen play on the right side and I’m only half-sure I’ve seen Nolan play the right.
He did, when he first arrived, with Richards and King on the second line, and then on the fourth line, when Gagne came back.
Clifford, once a staple of the fourth line, will find himself battling for his Kings life come training camp. The guy who just a year ago made us calmer that Wayne Simmonds was traded away is now seemingly the odd man out for consistent duty.
Of the six left wings mentioned — Brown, Penner, Gagne, King, Nolan and Clifford — one of them (Gagne) is almost certain to leave after next season (if he can even make it through 2012-13 healthy), and another (Penner) is not any kind of lock to return after next year either. I would say, actually, that since neither Clifford or Nolan ought to be considered top-six forwards (you can make an argument for King, though he fits anywhere), really we’re talking about whether there’s room for all three of Clifford, Nolan and King in the bottom six. We can just remove Brown, Gagne and Penner from the equation.
[...] If Clifford doesn’t crack the top 23, then what? He certainly has no business playing in Manchester. [...] [Kevin] Westgarth has no place on a Darryl Sutter coached team, particularly one with King and Nolan, both big enough to be considered heavy weights and willing to take on the necessary fisticuffs. I also think Brad Richardson will be traded before too long. There are also injuries to consider. There’s the chance King or Nolan regress. [...] I also find myself wishing Gagne weren’t on a two year contract. [...]
This is a great problem to have. [...] Damn it all though, I want to see Kyle Clifford 41 times at Staples next season. Then again I wanted to see Wayne Simmonds play for years with a crown on his chest, and it’s amazing what a Stanley Cup can make you forget you ever wanted.[...] What do you see happening? Put together some mock lineups. Is Kyle Clifford on yours?
Jarret Stoll, Trevor Lewis, Colin Fraser and Brad Richardson (and Marc-Andre Cliche) are one category of bottom six player. Clifford, Nolan, King and Westgarth (and Clune) are another. (You could make your own categories with different results; these are mine.) There is even a third category, given that our top-six forwards play huge defensive minutes; call it “alt. top six”: Andrei Loktionov, Tyler Toffoli (and Oscar Moller and Bud Holloway).
Because of Gagne and Stoll, there are four spots left in the bottom six. Plus one or two in the press box. Pick two or three from the Clifford group, two or three from the Lewis group, and one or two from the Loktionov group, as space allows.
I assume Westgarth is done. I agree with Surly that there’s no room and little point. Brad Richardson is a useful spare part though, and could be used as the Davis Drewiske of forwards, spending the year in the press box until inj****s occur. So let’s start by saying Fraser, Lewis and Richardson take up three of the six roster spots (four plus two press box).
That leaves three spots for Clifford, Nolan, King and Loktionov.
All four still have waiver-exemption left, though in Clifford’s case I believe he has only three or four NHL games until his exemption runs out.
UPDATE: as was pointed out in the comments, Clifford’s waiver exemption expired six games ago. Nolan,
King and Loktionov are still exempt. UPDATE-UPDATE: as was further pointed out in subsequent comments, King is no longer exempt either. As of last week. UPDATE-UPDATE-UPDATE: I think this is decaf.
Gagne – Stoll – Lewis
King – Fraser – Nolan
King – Stoll – Lewis
Clifford – Fraser – Nolan
Gagne – Loktionov – Toffoli
King – Fraser – Lewis
(trade Stoll, send Nolan to Manchester)
King – Loktionov – Toffoli
Clifford – Fraser – Lewis
(trade Stoll and Gagne)
Probably, what will happen is:
- Gagne – Stoll – Lewis will be the third line.
- Nolan and Loktionov will start the season in Manchester.
- King – Fraser – Clifford will be the fourth line.
- Richardson in the press box.
- Westgarth is traded.
- Loktionov and Toffoli are recalled in the event of “top-six” type injuries.
- Nolan is recalled for the other type.
I guess, going back to Surly’s original questions, it comes down to whether Clifford or Nolan can be sent to the AHL, whether that’s fair (to Clifford), and whether Nolan has passed Clifford on the depth chart. I don’t think Nolan has passed Clifford (yet). I do think it’s okay for either Nolan or Clifford to spend some time in the AHL. I don’t think that Clifford needs to be moved. Since King, Nolan and Clifford are all young and all have waiver-exemption left, it makes the most sense to let these three battle it out in camp. One of them can regroup in Manchester to start the season, and there’s no shame in that.
One thing to keep in mind is that Clifford has two years of NHL experience, and he’s seen some ups and downs. Nolan and King have not. They’ve been riding a pretty incredible wave, an unprecedented one, actually. At some point (I think!), the Kings are bound to come down from this high, and it might be good to see how the line-up reacts before we start dealing away our depth.