Monday: The Sharks have officially announced the signing.
Saturday: The San Jose Sharks have entered the college free agent mix, as TSN’s Frank Servalli reports that the team has agreed to an entry-level contract with Quinnipiac University forward Tim Clifton. It is a two-year, two-way deal for the 24-year-old undrafted center. With Quinnipiac eliminated from the ECAC conference tournament by Harvard last night and not in the mix for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament this year, Clifton will now likely head to San Jose to join the AHL Barracuda for the remainder of the season.
Clifton’s NHL signing may come as a surprise to some. One of the major catalysts in Quinnipiac’s run to the NCAA Championship last year, in which they lost for the second time in four years, Clifton’s numbers fell off significantly in his 2016-17 senior season. Clifton had amassed 43 points and a +27 rating in 39 games during his junior campaign, but followed it up this year with just 25 points and a -8 rating in the same amount of games. After having only a minor role in his first two year’s at Quinnipiac and a subpar final season, it appears that the Sharks are paying Clifton based on one season of high-end performance. Though the New Jersey native definitely has some potential, it seems likely that San Jose fans will have to wait some time to see if he develops into an NHL-caliber player.
It’s a low-risk investment for an organization that has found some recent success in the NCAA ranks. Ryan Carpenter, who has begun to carve out a role for himself in San Jose, was also an undrafted free agent who joined the Sharks out of Bowling Green State University in 2014, while rookie Danny O’Regan was skating with Boston University this time last year after being a late-round Sharks draft selection. Of course, the best college player in San Jose is none other than captain Joe Pavelski, who was a seventh-round pick of the Sharks in 2003 and played at the University of Wisconsin before becoming an NHL star. Clifton has a long way to go to be the next Pavelski, but could possibly become a Carpenter-type after a year or two in the AHL.