The Toronto Maple Leafs will not wait any longer for an upgrade in net. After falling to the New York Rangers tonight, the team has acquired Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings. In return, the Kings will receive depth forward Trevor Moore, a third-round pick in 2020 (CBJ) and a conditional third-round pick in 2021. That pick will become a second if the team re-signs Clifford or the Maple Leafs make the playoffs and Campbell wins six regular season games. The Kings will also retain 50% of Clifford’s remaining salary.
Toronto had been struggling all season to find a reliable backup goaltender and with Frederik Andersen’s recent injury, were forced to play Michael Hutchinson again this evening. After four goals against—including one laughable mishap where Hutchinson fell down and lost his stick—Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas had apparently seen enough. It comes as little surprise that Campbell would be a target of Dubas, who once traded for the goaltender while still running the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Campbell, 28, comes to Toronto after quite the journey. The 11th overall pick in 2010, the big goaltender had shown plenty of promise as part of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Unfortunately that success didn’t really carry over to the CHL or AHL ranks, and he struggled to even make it up the Dallas Stars’ depth chart. By 2015-16 he was splitting time between the AHL and ECHL, looking like a failed draft pick.
In came the Kings and goaltending coach Bill Ranford, who turned Campbell from a failed prospect to a part-time starter last season. Now through 58 career NHL games, he carries a .916 save percentage and a lot of hope for Maple Leafs’ fans.
Not to be forgotten in the deal is Clifford, who will cost just what remains of $800K for Toronto down the stretch. That essentially makes him the same price as Moore, though he comes with some very obvious stylistic differences. Clifford is an extremely physical forward who is willing to stand up for his teammates and punish defenders as they go back for the puck. A lack of physicality has been a critique of the Maple Leafs for some time, though we’ll have to wait and see if he can bring that on a regular basis.
For the Kings, Moore represents another potential forward piece for their rebuild. The 24-year old was signed out of the University of Denver in 2016 and produced very well at the minor league level, but was limited to mostly fourth line duties in Toronto. He has 13 points through 52 career games, but brings a ton of speed to a lineup that has been looking for it. Not only will Moore likely get a bigger opportunity in Los Angeles, but the Thousand Oaks, California native will be a lot closer to home.