NHL contract grades: The Sabers need to Connor Clifton to fill a bigger function


Connor Clifton signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Sabers price $3.33 million per yr.

Dom Luszczyszyn: When a sensible group does one thing in free company that comes out a little bit larger than anticipated, it’s one thing to be suspicious of. The Sabers have actually certified for it recently, and it makes me a little bit extra intrigued with Clifton, a defender who appears extra like somebody price $2 million than $3.33 million.

Clifton has had strong numbers for Boston in a protected function, and at that worth, the query is that if he can maintain that in an even bigger function. That’s at all times the large query for third-pair analytics darlings, particularly small ones, and the sword has been burned earlier than by style (cough, Colin Miller, cough). However seeing how properly Miller did in Dallas in an even bigger function means that it might have extra to do with who he performed for (cough, Ralph Krueger, cough) than anything. The Sabers are higher positioned at this level beneath Don Granato to reap the benefits of a participant like Clifton, who suits the profile of a participant who can soar into the lineup.

Based on knowledge tracked by Corey Sznajder, Clifton is excellent at creating possibilities offensively, getting photographs by way of the ice, and might transfer the puck properly out of penetration. Clifton has progressed properly over the previous few seasons in these areas, however he’s vulnerable to The Huge Mistake and doesn’t battle with rush protection. That is the place the stakes lie, however Buffalo deserves credit score right here and Clifton suits a necessity on the Sabers’ blue line.

Contract diploma: c +
applicable grade: a-

Mark Lazerus: Buffalo is making a concerted effort to bolster its heavy, skill-packed blue line with the signings of Eric Johnson and Clifton. Clifton is a strong, if not spectacular, two-man, and the veterans ought to lighten the defensive load on Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Bauer. The associated fee here’s a bit excessive for the Sabers, however that they had loads of room to burn and wanted to be crammed.

The query is, what might Clifton do in a unique function, on a unique staff? The arrival of Dmitry Orlov on the commerce deadline minimize quick his function, however Clifton has been robust in a fastidiously orchestrated function for many of the common season. In fact, similar to taking part in on a nasty staff can degrade a defenseman’s analytics, taking part in on one of many all-time greatest common season groups could make a defenseman look higher than he actually is. So we’ll have a significantly better concept of ​​what Clifton is now.

Clifton would inevitably face extra switch rushes at Buffalo than he did at Boston, and could possibly be uncovered in an excellent greater function. Granato retrained within the American Improvement Program, so it’s potential he’s a believer.

Contract diploma: B-
applicable grade: b +

(Photograph by Connor Clifton: Eric Hartline/USA Right this moment)