The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded for Kyle Clifford once again, this time sending only future considerations to the St. Louis Blues for the veteran forward. Clifford cleared waivers today, meaning he can be immediately assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
In 2020, the Maple Leafs acquired Clifford along with Jack Campbell in a trade that saw Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks go the other way. This time it will likely cost them nothing but money, something that not every team wants to spend on a fringe option. Clifford carries a cap hit of $1MM, which can be entirely buried in the minor leagues, but his one-way salary of $1.3MM will be paid to him no matter where he is assigned.
For the Maple Leafs, who are currently in long-term injured reserve space with both Ilya Mikheyev and Petr Mrazek on the shelf, Clifford could actually slide in on the active roster. The team sent Joey Anderson back to the minor leagues yesterday and are carrying only 13 forwards. That said, his cap hit will become trickier to work with once Mikheyev and Mrazek return.
The 30-year-old brings a ton of experience to the table though, along with his familiarity with former teammates like Campbell and Jake Muzzin. Clifford won the 2014 Stanley Cup–his second with the team–alongside Muzzin in Los Angeles and has suited up for nearly 800 games at the NHL level. While he does not bring much offense, Clifford is a physical presence that could give the Maple Leafs a bit of a jolt for their fourth line.
For the Blues, who are getting Oskar Sundkvist back tonight, there just wasn’t room for Clifford any longer. The team had to clear cap space to recall Scott Perunovich and instead of sending Clifford to the Springfield Thunderbirds, will send him back to his home province and former team.