Should the Oilers Target Kyle Clifford?

According to Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, the Los Angeles Kings are actively shopping forward Kyle Clifford, the exact type of player the Edmonton Oilers need in their lineup.

David Staples of the Edmonton Journal recaps a series of tweets from Bernstein, who highlights that the Kings are in tight against the salary cap and will seek relief by moving Clifford for a prospect and draft pick combination.  Bernstein mentions the Oilers in his barrage of activity on Twitter as a potential trade partner for the Kings.  Oddly enough, he also states that there is no “ill will” between the two clubs now that Steve Tambellini is no longer the GM in Edmonton.

Of course Craig MacTavish could pull a Kevin Lowe and swoop in, sign Clifford to an offer sheet given his restricted free agent status; a move that would instantly sour the relationship with Kings GM’ Dean Lombardi.  That move would also run the risk of having the Kings match the offer, retain Clifford and void any potential deals in the future between the two teams.  So a trade is likely the preferred method of business to avoid playing “dirty pool.”

Clifford would bring a much needed gritty presence to the Oilers forwards, standing in at 6’2″ and 208 pounds.   Last season he scored 7 goals and added 7 assists in 48 games to go with 51 penalty minutes.  He also had an impressive 155 hits, second on the club to only captain Dustin Brown.

At the age of just 22-years, Clifford would be an asset for the long-term in Edmonton, meaning this is a deal MacTavish must consider making.  Clifford would be worth the draft pick and a prospect based on the fact that he’s NHL ready and could easily slide into the Oilers third line to play along side Boyd Gordon and either Ales Hemsky or Ryan Jones.  Take Hemsky out of that equation and suddenly Edmonton would boast a third line that can not only compete every shift, but shut down opposing team’s top lines while banging and crashing to help set the tone of the game early on.  In other words, it would be a vital piece that Edmonton has been missing over the past few years.

There is an outside chance that the Kings and Clifford agree on a new deal to keep the youngster in Hollywood, but that would mean in this case the player would have to take a serious team friendly discount.  Edmonton has plenty of cap room to sign Clifford to a multi-year deal in the range of $1.5 – $2 million annually providing the Kings and Oilers can agree on a deal.

The urgency to win now could be questioned if the Kings would want a first round draft pick for Clifford, or a later round pick saddled with a top prospect.  The changes that MacTavish has already made this summer would signify that the need to win now/be competitive is high on his priority list and trading for Kyle Clifford would further confirm that.  Mac-T does have to be careful not to sell the immediate future for Clifford, something that’s easier said then done when doing business with Lombardi.  With some movable assets in the prospect cupboard, Edmonton is in great shape to make this deal, if in fact it’s available to made.

More on this story as it happens.

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