CLIFFORD: OFFER SHEET?

 

It is obvious the Oilers need a winger with size, grit and a willingness to go to the tough areas to play in their top-six. They don’t have one on the roster, and no one in the system is NHL-ready. If I was Craig MacTavish, I would sign RFA Kyle Clifford to an offer sheet.
 
I would offer him a one-year deal between $2.7- $3 million. 

This is why I believe Clifford makes sense.

  • He’s the type of player they need, and it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t been a top-six forward thus far, because very few teams have six actual "top-six" forwards.
     
  • The compensation is only a 2nd round pick. Clifford was the 35th pick in 2009. He’s already played three years in the NHL, and the chance that 2nd round pick turns out to be as good as Clifford is extremely low.
     
  • The Kings only have $5 million in cap space and they need to sign fourplayers. If they matched the offer sheet, they’d have a hard time singing both Jordan Nolan and Trevor Lewis.
     
  • Clifford isn’t a regular 2nd liner, when you look at his offensive numbers, but if he played regularly with two of Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Eberle, Gagner or Yakupov he’d improve and put up okay numbers.
     
  • His style of play is exactly the type of complimentary player the Oilers need to play alongside their skilled forwards.
     
  • Before you say he’s only scored 7 goals, keep in mind he did that in 48 games this season. Is it possible he could score 15 in a full season playing alongside RNH, Hall, Yakupov, Gagner or Eberle? I think so.
     
  • Also, don’t get hung up on points. His contribution would be more than just points. He would bring an element of tenacity, grit and toughness that the top-six lacks. His style of play could create more room for the skilled players.

TOP-SIX FORWARDS

Very few teams have six top-six forwards. The Blackhawks just won the Cup with Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell in their top-six. Were they considered top-six forwards at the start of the year, or even late in the year? Didn’t think so.

The past three full NHL seasons the 180th forward (six per team) had 32, 34 and 33 points. Is it completely ridiculous to believe Clifford could pot 28-33 points playing 15-16 minutes a night on the Oilers top-two lines, or mixed in at times on the 3rd line?

RISKS

  • Would it be an overpayment? Based on what he done so far in his career, yes, but it would only be a one-year deal. If he can’t handle being a top-six forward, the Oilers could still look at re-signing as a bottom six for a lower contract next year.
     
  • If he has a good season, you’d have to pay him $3 million again, but that means he’s produced so that shouldn’t be a big issue. He’s only 22 and he could mature and grow with the other young forwards.
     
  • I don’t buy that if the Oilers offer sheet him the Kings will be looking for revenge in the future. The Oilers don’t have cap issues moving forward, and they shoud have no problem extending Nugent-Hopkins and J.Schultz next season. This is business not personal, and if Dean Lombardi gets upset, oh well.
     
  • The Oilers and Ducks have made trades since the Dustin Penner offer sheet, so the Oilers shouldn’t be concerned about potential backlash from the Kings.
     
  • I’d consider this a bold move, because the Oilers would thinking outside the box. Clifford is the type of player they need, and even though he hasn’t shown he is a top-six forward yet, he also hasn’t been given the opportunity on a very deep LA Kings team.

Clifford would sign the offer sheet in a heartbeat, I’m just not sure if the Kings would match it or settle for the 2nd round pick?

I think the risk is worth the potential reward.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR