Leafs ship Moore, picks to Kings for goalie Campbell, winger Clifford
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings in a late-night trade Wednesday, in exchange for forward Trevor Moore, Columbus’ third-round draft pick in 2020 and a conditional third-round pick in 2021.
Los Angeles will retain 50 per cent of Clifford’s $1.6 million cap hit in the deal. According to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, the conditional third-round pick in 2021 becomes a second-round pick if either Clifford re-signs with Toronto (he's an unrestricted free agent on July 1) or the Leafs make the playoffs and Campbell wins six games. The Kings are guaranteed at least a third-round draft choice if neither condition is met.
The move came directly following Toronto’s 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers in the team’s first game since starting goaltender Frederik Andersen was sidelined by a neck injury suffered in Monday’s loss to the Florida Panthers.
Andersen is still under evaluation and a timeline for his return is not set. Backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson started against the Rangers, giving up four goals on 34 shots for an .882 save percentage.
It was the second straight loss for Hutchinson, who came in to relieve Andersen at the start of the second period of Monday’s tilt. There he allowed three goals on 10 shots in the third period to help erase Toronto’s 3-1 lead and cost them valuable points against an Atlantic Division rival in what’s become a heated race to the postseason.
Toronto is currently sitting outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, perched at fourth in its division and 10th in the conference, and with Andersen’s availability up in the air, the Leafs felt it necessary to finally address the backup goalie position.
Hutchinson has had a rocky season for Toronto since the fall, winning the second goalie spot after his only real competition, Michal Neuvirth, was injured in training camp. The journeyman failed to win a game out of the gate, going 0-6-1 before being demoted by former head coach Mike Babcock to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies in mid-November.
After Babcock was fired and Sheldon Keefe promoted into the head coaching role on Nov. 20, he brought Hutchinson back and the goaltender improved, winning four straight starts between Dec. 21 and Feb. 1. But coming in to relieve Andersen has been a struggle for Hutchinson, and he’s now 1-4-0 in his last five decisions overall with an .838 save percentage, to sit at 4-9-1 (.886 save percentage, 3.66 goals-against average) on the season.
Rumours had swirled that general manager Kyle Dubas was scouring the market for another backup goalie option, and he finally pulled the trigger on one in acquiring Campbell. The 28-year-old was drafted in the first round, 11th overall, by the Dallas Stars in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft but has played all but one of his 58 NHL games for the Kings.
This season, Campbell’s 8-10-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .900 save percentage, and he’ll come to Toronto with the expectation of challenging Hutchinson immediately for playing time.
This is the second time Dubas has traded for Campbell in his career, the first time coming back in 2011 when Dubas was GM of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and acquired Campbell from the Windsor Spitfires. Campbell has two more years remaining on his contract, with a $1.65 million cap hit.
In Clifford, the Leafs get some size and grit in their lineup, to round out the abundance of skilled forwards. At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, Clifford can be an intimidating presence, and also boasts championship pedigree with two Stanley Cup rings from his time with the Kings. Clifford comes to the Leafs with 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 53 games.
Dubas has a past with Clifford as well. Prior to joining the executive ranks, Dubas was a player agent for Uptown Sports and represented Clifford as his first client.
For Moore, the trade sends him back to his home state of California, and close to his hometown of Thousand Oaks. Moore was an undrafted college free agent from the University of Denver when the Leafs signed him in 2016, and he worked his way from a Marlies’ fourth liner to being a valuable bottom-six forward the last two seasons. Slowed this year by a shoulder injury and a concussion, Moore has five points (three goals, two assists) in 27 games.