Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas took the initial steps towards filling a couple of glaring holes in the lineup when he made his first big trade of this season’s road to the NHL Trade Deadline. On Wednesday, he acquired the team’s new back-up goalie and a little bit of toughness, two things the Maple Leafs drastically needed help with.
It was rumored Dubas was kicking tires on a backup netminder of out of Los Angeles on Tuesday and that turned out to be true as the Maple Leafs traded for Jack Campbell and while they were at it, Dubas landed Kyle Clifford to give a little punch to their lineup. In exchange, the Maple Leafs GM sent Trevor Moore, a third-round pick in 2020, and a conditional third-round pick in 2021 back to the Kings.
Jack Campbell As the Backup
Campbell hasn’t been stellar so far this season but he’s not been terrible either. Behind a relatively poor Kings defense, he’s managed to go 8-10-2 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage over 20 games behind Jonathan Quick. Dubas must be banking on the idea that Campbell can get those numbers up a touch, specifically more in line with the totals he posted the previous season with the Kings.
Campbell will play behind Frederik Andersen who is day-to-day with a neck injury and the Leafs are hoping this one-two combination will give them the netminding they need, knowing that Michael Hutchinson was struggling to secure the role.
Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the Maple Leafs and Kings had been discussing the potential of this trade for a few weeks, but things intensified in the last couple of days.
One potential bonus of this trade for the Leafs is that Campbell makes only $675K this season and he’s locked in for two more seasons after this one with a $1.65 million salary.
Kyle Clifford Will Add Some Jam to the Leafs Lineup
While acquiring their new backup, the Maple Leafs were also able to land some grit and sandpaper to the lineup in the form of Kyle Clifford. 29, Clifford has six goals and eight assists over 53 games this season with the Kings.
In a way, this is a coming home of sorts for Clifford who is an Ontario native, but has only ever played for the Kings through his NHL career and since being drafted in 2009. For most of the season, fans and media have said the Maple Leafs need to get tougher. They’ve certainly addressed that need with this trade.
Los Angeles will retain 50 per cent of Clifford’s salary and he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, essentially making him a low cost rental at $800K this season.
Are the Maple Leafs Done?
Left on Dubas’ potential to-do list is a defenseman but speculation is he’ll wait to see how Morgan Rielly is fairing and how Rasmus Sandin progresses before making a deal.
In this trade, he was able to get two essential pieces for the Leafs without moving anything significant (even though Moore has some potential upside). Acquiring significant help on the blue line could cost Dubas a piece he’s not terribly keen on moving.
Fun Fact About the Trade
Dubas has history with both players. Kyle Clifford was represented by Dubas a decade ago when Dubas was a player agent (his first ever client) and this is the second time Dubas has traded for Campbell, the first time being when he was the GM of the SOO Greyhounds.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”