- ROOKIE REPORT: CONNOR CLIFTON
- Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018
ROOKIE REPORT: CONNOR CLIFTON
Connor Clifton was drafted in 2013 by the Arizona Coyotes out of Quinnipiac, but failed to reach an agreement with them by the August 16, 2017 deadline. The organization stated that there just wasn’t a fit for him and it was best they both go their separate ways. The Coyotes’ loss was the Bruins’ gain as they quickly signed him to an AHL deal when he hit the open market. Quinnipiac’s captain as a senior, Clifton played four colligate seasons with the Bobcats before turning pro this season and was ready to bring his aggressive style of play to the Providence blue line.
Unfortunately for Clifton, his play early in the season was too aggressive. He took a lot of risks and his puck management was not up to the level of other Providence defenders, so he had a hard time cracking the lineup. In eight of the team’s first 10 games, Clifton was a healthy scratch. When he did get a chance to play early on, it was far from smooth sailing. He recorded just a single assist with a minus-two rating over 12 games.
As he got more and more comfortable with the AHL, his game began to improve all around and his physical play was on display full-time. Though not the biggest guy on the ice (just 5-11, 190lbs) he is not afraid to deliver hits regardless of the opponent and opposing teams knew when he was out on the ice. He backed away from no one and was a noticeable presence to anyone watching.
From February until the end of the season, things really began to click for the rookie. Over the final 26 games of the season he posted 10 points and a plus-11 rating, adding in some offensive skill with his punishing hits. He still played an aggressive style, but knew how to manage it better than in the earlier days of the season. He finished the year with 13 points and a plus-11 rating while playing his best hockey down the stretch.
In a season where plenty of Boston prospects developed, Clifton may have improved the most from October to April. His energetic play and overall improvement led to his first NHL contract at the end of the season when Boston signed him to a two-year entry deal May 3. As a right shot defenseman, it may be tough for him to make Boston’s roster out of camp with that side pretty much locked. However, he is likely going to be one of the first options should an injury arise while he continues to grow in 2018-19.
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The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Boston Bruins, playing their home games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Spanning more than 25 years, the Boston/Providence affiliation is one of the longest and most successful player development partnerships in professional hockey history.
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