It appears that former LA Kings forward Kyle Clifford will test the free-agent market, which could void the conditional second-round pick in next year’s draft.
Aside from Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford was one of the last role players traded away this past season, as the LA Kings committed towards a full rebuild. The Kings sent Clifford, and goalie Jack Campbell, to the Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional third-round pick. Conditional, meaning there was the opportunity to be upgraded to a second-round pick if Clifford were to re-sign.
But it appears the 29-year-old is deadset on testing the free-agent market.
The Leafs have approximately $6.1M in available cap space for next season and are in need of improvement along the blue line. That was made immediately clear after their early exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So they’ll have to get creative in creating some cap space, with Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Jason Spezza, and Clifford all being unrestricted free agents.
With the Leafs, Clifford tallied just one goal with two assists for three points in 16 games before the shutdown. In the playoffs, he didn’t log a ton of minutes and was generally very quiet, so there would seem to be less incentive on bringing him back.
Of course, the LA Kings could bring Clifford back, but he turns 30 in January, and that notion doesn’t align with the plan. If anything, it would be preserving the Stanley Cup nostalgia. Clifford spent nine and a half years in LA, scoring 60 goals with 69 assists and won two Stanley Cups during his time here.
So it appears, for now, the Kings will be getting the Maple Leafs 2021 third-round pick, giving them two picks in the second, third, and fourth round of next year’s draft.