Wednesday could be decision day for Kings' Kyle Clifford, Brayden Schenn
With an important deadline approaching for the Kings to decide whether they will keep 19-year-old forwards Kyle Clifford and Brayden Schenn or return each to his respective junior team, Coach Terry Murray said Wednesday he intends to have Clifford in the lineup Thursday against Dallas at Staples Center but will sit Schenn for the third straight game.
That would be Clifford’s 10th game, which would activate the first year of his contract. After he plays 10 games the Kings could still return him to Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League, but they could not recall him this season.
Murray said he and General Manager Dean Lombardi planned to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss their thoughts on the two youngsters. Asked whether it would be more beneficial to keep Schenn here without playing him or return him to Brandon of the Western Hockey League, Murray was blunt.
“My gut feeling on it is that he might need to go back and play, go to junior and play,” Murray said after the Kings’ practice in El Segundo.
“That’s my gut feel. That will be the conversation we have, so that’s not a firm, strong opinion, obviously, it’s just my opinion. It has a little bit of weight but it doesn’t carry everything.
“So we’ll discuss it and we’ll see where it comes out.”
During practice Lombardi declined to disclose his intentions. “I guess we’ll find out. Actions speak louder than words,” he said.
When asked if it served Schenn and the team best to have him here without playing, Lombardi said, “I guess that’s what we’re working through right now, to see if it serves the purpose of the team and making him better. Those are the two issues.”
Lombardi said the decision would not be based on finances or cap issues. Schenn’s NHL salary would be $900,000, but he also has $2.115 million in bonuses, and has a cap hit of $3.140 million. Clifford would earn $685,000 plus bonuses, for a cap hit of $870,000. The Kings have about $6 million in cap space, according to capgeek.com and nhlscap.com.
We’ll have more later, including defenseman Jake Muzzin saying he welcomed being sent to Manchester to work on his game -- but he’s glad to be back and will be playing Thursday.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kyle Clifford. Credit: Kelvin Kuo / US Presswire