Thursday, February 6, 2020
NHL Trade Review: Leafs acquire Campbell and Clifford
The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Trevor Moore, a 2020 third round pick (originally from Columbus) and a conditional 2021 3rd round pick. If Clifford, a pending free agent, re-signs with the Leafs, the draft pick becomes a second rounder. It also becomes a second round pick if the Maple Leafs make the 2019-20 playoffs and Campbell wins six regular season games.
For the second year in a row, the trade deadline season was kicked off with a trade between the Leafs and the Kings. Last year, it was Toronto sending their first round pick, Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi to L.A. for Jake Muzzin, who is still with the club. While this trade is not as big as its predecessor, Toronto is finally upgrading a position of dire need: backup goaltender. Starter Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a neck injury, and backup Michael Hutchinson has been terrible. He has lost 10 of his 14 decisions (counting his one overtime loss). Hutchinson has a .886 save percentage and a 3.66 GAA this year. Campbell is definitely an upgrade. The 11th overall pick in 2010, Campbell was a late bloomer, not getting a real NHL chance until last year, with his second team. He was very good as Jonathan Quick's backup, with a .928 save percentage. He has regressed this year, with a save percentage that has been hovering around .900. Campbell is very cheap, with a cap hit of $675k. Campbell would have been a free agent at the end of the year, but in September he signed two year extension with a $1.65 million cap hit. If Campbell can get to half of his 2018-19 production, that will be a steal of a contract. Clifford also brings something that the Leafs don't really have - a defensive forward not afraid to hit. The Leafs' forward corps consist of skilled forwards like Moore, but not much hitting. Grinders aren't necessary anymore, but it is good to have one. The Leafs' forwards leader in hits is Dmytro Timashov, who isn't a regular. He also has 75 hits, 15 less than Clifford. While Clifford has played in nearly 20 more games, he also brings the veteran presence that Toronto lacks. He won two Stanley Cups in his Los Angeles tenure.
Campbell, 28, has a .900 save percentage and a 2.85 GAA in 20 games for the Kings this year. In his NHL career for the Kings and Dallas Stars, Campbell has a .916 save percentage and a 2.58 GAA in 58 games.
Clifford, 29, has six goals with eight assists for 14 points in 53 games for the Kings this year. In his NHL career, all in Los Angeles, Clifford has scored 60 goals with 69 assists for 129 points in 660 games.
The Kings are in sell mode. If they had not signed Campbell to an extension the trade would make more sense, however, they need a goalie. It does help them tank more. Quick has been terrible this year, with a save percentage under .900 and a GAA over 3.00. Cal Peterson is the only other goalie on the roster. The 25 year old from Iowa has had an encouraging first NHL season, with a .924 save percentage in 11 games. Moore can be an upgrade from Clifford. The undrafted forward has 24 goals and 41 points in 48 games over the last two AHL seasons, but has struggled in the NHL. He has played all but two of his professional games this year in the NHL. He will get a bigger chance with the Kings, but if he couldn't score in a very offense heavy system in Toronto, there might not be much hope for Moore. This trade marks the start of a big February for the Kings. Former Cup winners Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli are likely on the way out.
Moore, 24, has three goals with two assists for five points in 27 games for the Leafs this year. In his NHL career, all in Toronto, Moore has scored five goals with eight assists for 13 points in 52 games.