NEW YORK — The Toronto Maple Leafs’ future between the pipes was officially murky until approximately 50 minutes after they lost a second consecutive game, 5-3 to the New York Rangers.
Two nights earlier, No. 1 netminder Frederik Andersen was injured and left the game after the first period in the team’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Andersen is out with a neck injury and the time frame for his return is unknown. That doesn’t help a team that’s on the outside looking in at the postseason.
Backup Michael Hutchinson, who has struggled mightily this season, entered the net and allowed three goals on 13 shots as the Leafs let a 3-1 lead slip away in the third period. Against the Rangers, he wasn’t any better as he misread chance after chance and gave up four goals on 34 shots.
NHL TRADE TRACKER 2020: List of deals completed before the deadline
With Toronto having a playoffs-or-bust mentality, general manager Kyle Dubas finally pulled the trigger on a trade that had reportedly been in the works for a while.
Here’s how the Leafs did.
Maple Leafs received from Los Angeles:
Goaltender Jack Campbell, forward Kyle Clifford
Kings received from Toronto:
Forward Trevor Moore, Columbus’ third-round draft pick in 2020 (previously acquired from Ottawa on July 1, 2019) and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2021. Los Angeles will retain 50 percent of Clifford’s salary as part of the transaction. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the conditional pick is based on whether UFA Kyle Clifford re-signs and a number of wins by Campbell.
That conditional third in ‘21 becomes a 2nd RD pick if either Clifford re-signs with the Leafs OR Campbell wins a certain amount of games …. Kings are guaranteed at least the 3rd Rd pick if neither of those conditions are met https://t.co/2GHoMyPFOJ
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 6, 2020
For more on the deal, click here.
Leafs grade: A-
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe was noncommittal after the Rangers loss about Hutchinson starting Friday when the Anaheim Ducks visit Scotiabank Arena.
“It’s too early to tell and there’s a lot going on obviously with Fred and some other things too,” he said.
Well, now we know what those “other things” were. The Maple Leafs got their backup goalie — and possible starting goalie — for the foreseeable future.
Campbell doesn’t have good numbers this year, but to be fair, the Kings are not a good hockey team. In 20 games, he is 8-10-2 with a .900 save percentage and -4.82 GSAA. Last season, he went 10-14-1 in 31 games with a .928 save percentage and a 15.16 GSAA on a Kings team that was just as bad.
For perspective: Campbell has a 109 Goals Against percentage (league average is 100) and a -4.82 GSAA. Quick has a 116 Goals Against percentage and a -13.70 GSAA (and he looks better than he did last year). These Kings are HARD to play behind.
— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) February 6, 2020
Despite the poor numbers, he’s a definite upgrade from Hutchinson. He may only have 58 NHL games under his belt, but considering just how bad the Kings have been in front of him — they are 0-20-1 when trailing after one period — he has done an admirable job, and from watching this clip of saves, it’s easy to see he tracks the puck and reads the play well above Hutchinson’s level.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson also notes that Crawford has two more years on his contract and could be exposed in the Seattle expansion draft.
As for Clifford, he’ll be a bottom-six forward but will add a desperately needed gritty, tough, physical element. Toronto is a finesse team with the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and John Tavares. It has the second-best offensive numbers (193 goals for) in the NHL, but it also averages just 16.9 hits per game (the league average is around 21.6); against the Rangers, they were outhit 29-12.
NHL POWER RANKINGS: Toronto Maple Leafs drop
Speaking of Tavares, he was tagged for roughing at the end of the game after tangling with Ryan Lindgren, something the team’s captain and one of its top scorers should not have to do.
“He cross-checked me and then I thought he just shoved me and I couldn’t stand there and take it,” Tavares said, adding that he was fighting for his ice. The tussle came 40 seconds after Zach Hyman dropped the gloves with ex-University of Michigan teammate Jacob Trouba and was left bloodied. Those two have five fights between them, as per hockeyfights.com.
In the postseason — which is not guaranteed for Toronto at this juncture — physical, big bodies are needed. The Leafs entered Wednesday’s contest with only two fights on the season — and the first one wasn’t until Travis Dermott dropped the gloves in early December. According to hockeyfights.com, Clifford has three himself this season and 80 in his career.
A rental player (he’ll be a UFA on July 1), Clifford also brings with him two Stanley Cup rings. Like his reunited teammate Jake Muzzin, he has driven deep into the postseason, knows how physical the playoffs are and has tasted success. That’s key inside the locker room.
He may only have 129 career points (60 goals, 69 assists) in 660 games, but he’ll add a nice layer to a roster that has missed that element.
A quick note: Dubas knew what he was getting in the trade, aside from what each player brings. The Leafs GM’s first deal with the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds was to acquire Campbell from Windsor. John Shannon also pointed out that Dubas represented Clifford when he was an agent.