Last year, Kyle Clifford was 19 years old when he came to the Kings’ training camp. Only one year removed from being drafted by the team in the second round of the 2009 draft, he had yet to play a single professional game, let alone in the NHL.
Still, the year prior, then-assistant coach Mark Hardy called him the MVP of the 2009 Rookie Camp – that was ahead of several other top prospects, including Brayden Schenn and Brandon Kozun. Thus, he’s been receiving praise from members of the Los Angeles organization for quite some time now.
In 76 regular season games last year, he had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). Then, during the Kings first round playoff series with the San Jose Sharks, Clifford turned into a nearly point-a-game player, posting five points (including three goals) in six games.
With the reshuffling of the Kings bottom six this year, he’ll most likely be playing with new linemates this season. Currently, he’s on the left side of a line centered by Jarret Stoll – who had the following to say about playing with the rugged forward…
“He now realizes now he’s counted on to make plays and carry the puck – not just dump it in and get on the forecheck. Obviously, that’s there too and he can play that style of game. But, if he has that room, if he has that ice, we saw in the playoffs last year that he can carry that puck through the neutral-zone – he has a lot of speed, he’s obviously strong on the puck, he has a great shot too. So, he brings a lot to the table. It’s just a matter of keeping that confidence high, like he had at the end of last year and roll with it. Confidence is a scary thing sometimes when you have it – and try to keep it.”
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Audio interview with Mark Hardy – talks in-depth about Clifford, Doughty, time with Kings, etc.