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Nashville claims Richard Clune off waivers from Los Angeles. But why?

Predators Breaking News

I’ve got to be honest, this one doesn’t make much sense.

The Nashville Predators have claimed forward Richard Clune off waivers from the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

Clune has been playing with their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, for the past five seasons. His only NHL experience came during the stretch run in 2010 where he played in 14 games for LA and recorded just two points, both in the same game. He then skated in four playoff games for the Kings that year and had just a fighting major and a minus-2 rating to show for it.

Listed at 5’10” and 216 pounds by the Monarchs, the Toronto, Ontario native was a third round draft pick of the Dallas Stars back in 2005. While a point-per-game player in his final two years of junior, he seems to have found a niche for his toughness rather than his offensive prowess since turning pro. Clune has back-to-back seasons with over 220 penalty minutes and his 253 PIMs last season were third in the entire AHL. Which leads us to the confusion as to why General Manager David Poile and the Predators picked him up.

Nashville already has toughness in Brian McGrattan. Furthermore, they’re already carrying 13 forwards as it is. Why would they need another fourth liner with the big club?

This may be a reach but it’s the most logical I can come up with. Has Michael Latta finally earned a call up from Milwaukee? Or, at the very least, is one on the horizon? Latta provides the Admirals with grit and toughness but he has the rare combo of contributing offensively too. His 22 points are second on the team but his 110 PIMs not only lead the Ads but are 14th in the league. With the compacted NHL schedule, teams are going to rely heavily on their AHL affiliates this year. Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz have both called Latta a “Jordin Tootoo replacement” eventually. Plucking Clune from the waiver wire puts toughness back in the Milwaukee lineup once Latta’s call comes.

For perspective, the closest player to Latta on the Admirals stat sheet in regards to penalty minutes is defenseman Joonas Jarvinen. And he trails by a whopping 63. Needless to say, if the former Guelph Storm forward receives his first NHL call-up, someone has to replace him, at least in the physicality category.

Enter Richard Clune.

UPDATE (3:05pm Central): The Predators have made it official. The press release is below.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 15, 2013) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club claimed forward Richard Clune on waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Clune is in the first of a two-year, two-way contract that will pay him $525,000 at the NHL level and $75,000 at the AHL level in 2012-13, and $525,000 at the NHL level and $90,000 at the AHL level in 2013-14.

Clune, 25 (4/25/87), has seven points (2g-5a) and 98 penalty minutes in 35 games with L.A.’s primary developmental affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, in 2012-13. Since turning pro in 2006-07, the 5-10, 207-pound native of Toronto has appeared in 275 career AHL games, posting 75 points (26g-49a) and 925 penalty minutes. During the 2009-10 campaign, he played his first 14 NHL regular season games (0g-2a, 26 PIM) – and four playoff contests (0g-0a, 5 PIM) – with the Kings.

The Dallas Stars’ third selection (71st overall, third round) in the 2005 Entry Draft split his junior career between the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting (2003-06) and Barrie Colts (2006-07), winning the 2005 Bobby Smith Trophy as the OHL’s scholastic player of the year.