A look back at Connor Clifton's 1st Year

After signing a 3-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres, Connor Clifton had a year of a few negatives but many positives.
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Buffalo Sabres brought Connor Clifton into the organization last offseason to help change the team's fortunes. Clifton signed a three-year deal worth 3.33 million a season after coming over from the Boston Bruins.

Buffalo had a slow start, and Clifton faced suspension at the beginning of the season. However, both he and Buffalo turned a bit of their fortunes around, and he was part of the reason why they were in playoff contention late in the season.

In a game at the end of October against the New Jersey Devils, Clifton had an illegal check on New Jersey captain, Nico Hischier. He was suspended for two games but returned for the remainder of the season and was a valuable asset for the Sabres as the second half of the season got under way. In a two-game stretch in January, Clifton had two assists and plus minus ice time of +2 in both games.

For the season, Clifton had only four goals, but he contributed in different ways. The defenseman registered 18 assists on the year and 117 blocks. If they are looking to break their playoff drought next year, Clifton and the rest of the Sabres defensemen will need to be strong on the defensive end entering next season.

Clifton was strong on the penalty kill throughout the season. During a game in March against the New York Islanders, the Sabres went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill. Clifton was on the ice for all four penalty kills. In 2023/2024, the Sabres were +12 in ice time during the season.

Lindy Ruff will be looking for strong players to contribute next season. If Clifton can be strong on defense and keep up the play on the penalty kill, look for him to be a strong contributor as the season unfolds.