By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Boston Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton may be ready for a return to NHL action as soon as this week. Per the official AHL transactions page and RinksideRhodeIsland.com’s reporter Mark Divver, the 24-year-old defenseman’s conditioning stint with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins. Clifton sustained an upper-body injury in late December of 2019 in a 3-2 victory against Buffalo.
Connor Clifton’s conditioning stint is over. Boston recalls him from Providence, per AHL transactions
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) February 23, 2020
In two games with the Providence Bruins, Clifton failed to register any points but his production on and off the scoresheet wasn’t important in this timeframe. In games against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Springfield Thunderbird that he played in almost a week apart, Connor got to stretch his legs and get back into game shape. In 30 NHL games this season prior to his late December injury the Quinnipiac University graduate posted two goals to bring his career NHL numbers to 2-1-3 in 49 games.
With this recall, it should be interesting to see how the Clifton fits in the defensive core moving forward with 22 games remaining in the regular season. If Connor is going to be that seventh, eighth, or ninth blueliner working in a rotation while Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy utilizes load management in an attempt to keep core members rested and ready for another long postseason run.
— CapFriendly Transactions (@CF_Transactions) February 23, 2020
Clifton, in my opinion, is an aggressive strong defenseman with the ability to transition out of his zone quickly and offers a decent pair of hands with it comes to offensive and puck protection attributes. Currently, under the last year of his entry-level contract for the remainder of the year, the Bruins see great potential in the young Connor as they locked him up at one million per season for the next three years. Potential departures on the backend over the offseason could pave way full-time opportunities for the 5′-11″ 174-pound New Jersey native on the backend.
I believe a low-risk high reward “show me first” contract like this was both beneficial to the player and organization moving forward. For the player, the landscape looks good as positions become available and for the Bruins club, his salary cap number allows the organization to add when needed if the forever need of cap space is available. Not saying he’d the heir apparent to a Zdeno Chara in a year or two but might make a solid replacement for a player like Kevan Millar and his uncertain future.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) February 24, 2020