With a team save percentage below .900 since the start of January, GM Kyle Dubas has made a move to address an 18-months-long hole in his goaltending depth chart, acquiring 28-year-old netminder Jack Campbell and veteran left-winger Kyle Clifford in exchange for Trevor Moore, Columbus’ third-round draft selection, and a conditional third-round pick in 2021.
A former 11th-overall draft pick of the Dallas Stars who won Goaltender of the Tournament honours for Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championships, Jack Campbell was acquired by Dubas while Dubas was General Manager of the Soo Greyhounds during the 2011-12 OHL season. All but written off after five years of toiling in the minors with the Stars organization, Campbell has posted a .916 save percentage in 58 starts split up over four NHL seasons with the Kings, posting an impressive .928 season behind a terrible LA team in 2018-19 (31 GP), including a stretch where he capably took over the starter’s role after Jonathan Quick’s knee injury.
This season, Campbell’s stat line isn’t nearly as impressive (.900), although the 6’2, 200-pound Michigan native has posted a +1.2 in save percentage above expected behind an equally-bad Kings team, outperforming Jonathan Quick in his 20 starts (10-14-1).
In an interview with the LA Times last month, Kings goaltender coach Dusty Imoo described the transformation in Campbell’s game and goaltending style since he arrived in LA:
“He’s come such a long way,” Imoo said. “Like anything, he’s worked so hard. Finally, the dream is happening for him. You don’t want to lose that, right?”
Imoo remembers a younger Campbell with no identity when he first started working with him. Like a golfer changing his swing, Campbell was stuck between styles and full of confusion.
“When he first came to me, he was a mess,” Imoo said. “Different people were telling him to play different ways. Instead of being him, he tried to take things from different guys.”
Campbell tried to model his style after Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, but Imoo said Campbell was too rigid. At one point, Imoo said he told Campbell, “Dude, just be yourself.”
Imoo and Campbell actually did use Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask as an example of a controlled but athletic stance that has given Campbell his base.
Jack Campbell StatisticsDate of Birth: Jan 09, 1992
Place of Birth: Port Huron, MI, USA
Height: 6'2" / 188 cm
Weight: 196 lbs / 89 kg
|2016-17||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||1||0||1||||
|2017-18||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||5||2.48||0.924||||
|2018-19||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||31||2.3||0.928||||
|2019-20||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||20||2.85||0.9||||
A team cannot sustain the winning streaks the Leafs are going to need to put together down the stretch of the 2019-20 season without two solid goaltenders in the stable; while goalies are wholly unpredictable when moved from one team/system to the next, the urgency hit the roof after the recent Frederik Andersen injury in addition to another 4+ goal, sub. 900 performance from Michael Hutchinson in the loss to New York on Wednesday night. Kyle Dubas waited longer than almost anybody in the media or fan base would have when it came to addressing this glaring roster hole — one he arguably created himself by coming out on the wrong end of the Curtis McElhinney/Garrett Sparks decision back in the Fall of 2018.
Signed for $1.65 million a season for two more years, Campbell’s deal outlasts the current contract of Frederik Andersen, who is two years his senior and is signed until the end of the 2020-21 season. Andersen is currently in the midst of his worst statistical season as a Leaf with a .910 save percentage through 42 starts.
Trevor Moore was a quality depth piece for the Leafs when healthy and is signed at a good number for another season (775k) before he becomes an RFA. However, Dubas did address the goalie position without wasting any major gun powder in terms of his most significant trade assets ahead of the deadline, while replacing Moore with a quality fourth-liner who ticks a few boxes on the toughness and leadership/experience fronts.
A fan favourite who remained beloved among the fan base and in the locker room even through the recent lean seasons in LA, Kyle Clifford has a couple of Cup rings to his name, plays a mean game, and can chip in 5-10 goals / 20-25 points / 80-100 penalty minutes a season in a bottom-six role. The 29-year-old has averaged around 11 minutes a night in LA this year, scoring six goals and 14 points in 53 games. He has historically stacked up as a higher-end fourth-liner in terms of his possession and defensive impacts on an LA team that won its Cups playing a tight-checking, heavy possession game.
You basically know what you are getting out of Clifford on most nights: While he lacks for foot speed, he brings 10-12 honest and hardnosed minutes of north-south hockey. A capable fighter, Clifford is known to step in for his teammates and has earned respect around the league for his character in that area. However you may value it (or not), that isn’t a trait the Leafs had much (any?) of in their ranks.
I don't like predicting the outcome of goalie trades, but because of the story about Kyle Clifford telling an Atlanta Thrashers scout he'd throw him through a window at his draft interview, the Leafs won this deal
— Alec Brownscombe (@MapleLeafsHS) February 6, 2020
“I love Cliffy! He is the ultimate throwback guy who always puts the team’s success ahead of his own. He is the guy willing to do whatever it takes to help the Kings win. I’ve seen Cliffy fight for his teammates, block shots, take a big hit to make a play – whatever it took for the team. He never complains and always gets the job done at full throttle. He is a man-child, who pound-for-pound might be the toughest guy I ever played with.”
Kyle Clifford StatisticsDate of Birth: Jan 13, 1991
Place of Birth: Ayr, ON, CAN
Height: 6'2" / 188 cm
Weight: 212 lbs / 96 kg
|2005-06-01||Cambridge Hawks Bantam AAA “C”||AHBPL||-||-||-||-||-||||
|2006-07-01||Cambridge Hawks Minor Midget AAA “A”||AHMMPL||70||31||49||80||119||||
|2010-11-01||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||76||7||7||14||141||-10|||||Playoffs||6||3||2||5||7||-2|
|2011-12-01||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||81||5||7||12||123||-5|||||Playoffs||3||0||0||0||2||-1|
|Los Angeles Kings||NHL||48||7||7||14||51||1|||||Playoffs||14||0||2||2||8||-1|
|2013-14||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||71||3||5||8||81||6|||||Playoffs||24||1||6||7||39||-2|
|2014-15||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||80||6||9||15||87||5||||
|2015-16||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||56||3||6||9||55||-1|||||Playoffs||4||0||1||1||0||1|
|2016-17||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||73||6||6||12||92||-2||||
|2017-18||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||50||6||4||10||48||-4|||||Playoffs||4||0||0||0||6||-2|
|2018-19||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||72||11||10||21||96||4||||
|2019-20||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||53||6||8||14||45||-6||||
Clifford’s $1.6 million contract, half of which was retained by the Kings in the deal, expires at the end of the season (UFA). The conditional third-round draft pick going to LA in the deal is partially contingent on whether the Leafs re-sign Clifford beyond the current season:
That conditional third round pick in ‘21 has to do with whether or not Clifford re-signs with Toronto and a number of wins by Campbell…. so two conditions attached to that pick.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 6, 2020
If #Leafs assign G Michael Hutchinson to the minors, the trade will result in the same amount of cap hit coming in as going out.
Acquired: Campbell ($675k) and Clifford with 50% retained ($800k) = +$1.475M
Traded: Moore ($775k) and if they assign Hutchinson (700k) = -$1.475M
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 6, 2020
Forgot: when Kyle Dubas was an agent, his first client was…Kyle Clifford
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 6, 2020
Skatr Charts: Kyle Clifford and Trevor Moore
Heat Maps: Kyle Clifford (top), Trevor Moore (bottom)
Note: Negative threat numbers on defense are better. Red shows higher threat areas.