The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly interested in Kyle Clifford, but it’s tough to justify trading for the physical winger.
As we draw ever closer to the trade deadline, if there’s any chance to connect a player to the Toronto Maple Leafs, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to happen. Take, for example, Kyle Clifford.
According to Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman, general manager Kyle Dubas has inquired about Clifford. Apparently this took place, while he was negotiating the Jake Muzzin trade with the Los Angeles Kings.
As for the connection, it comes from Dubas’ time working at Uptown Sports Management. While there he represented Clifford, who is still with the company.
The question is, will the Leafs return to the Kings to ask again about the winger? And more to the point, should they?
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In his favour, Clifford is physical, disciplined and has an excellent work ethic. As Friedman notes, he has a great reputation around the NHL.
However, there are also enough reasons to stay away from the Ayr, Ontario native, starting with his durability. While no one doubts his toughness, he still struggles to stay healthy, which obviously compromises his ability to be consistently effective on the ice.
Clifford would play in the bottom six for the Leafs, but even as fourth liner, his points production is uninspiring. He has just 105 points (50 goals and 55 assists) in 581 career games entering Thursday’s slate of games, including 11 points (seven goals and four assists) in 46 games this season.
The last factor that potentially works against the 2009 35th overall draft pick, is his contract. He is in the remaining two years of his current deal, with both seasons carrying a cap hit of $1.6 million.
In theory, the Leafs can make that work this season. However, the final year could prove tricky due to the team’s pending salary cap issues.
The only way you figure Dubas and company can get around this, is by persuading the Kings to retain around 50 percent of Clifford’s salary. The thinking here is that Los Angeles would not agree to this. (And why should they?)
What’s your opinion of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ apparent interest in Clifford? Would you trade for him or not, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.