As the Maple Leafs limped to a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers, GM Kyle Dubas was busy acquiring goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings. A deal that sent forward Trevor Moore, Columbus’ third round pick in 2020, and a conditional third round pick in 2021 the other way.
This trade was made imperative with goaltender Michael Hutchinson struggling to solidfy his position in goal with an injured Frederik Andersen on the sidelines. Campbell comes in with a goals against average of just 2.85 and a save percentage .900%.
He has really come into his own while playing behind a regressing Kings team. Campbell has developed under the tuteluge of Goalie Coach Bill Ranford, and his game has gone from a high energy in his early days to a more mature goalie who prides himself on being in position to make the easier save.
As for Kyle Clifford, he brings the jam and sandpaper that many have felt this team needed to really be competitive in the playoffs. With his 6″2 and 212 lbs frame, he brings those qualities in spades. But what has also been reported are his leadership qualities in the dressing room. A true competitor who will make the players more accountable, and who will set a bar for a stronger work ethic.
Personally, I like this trade for the Leafs it check marks a couple of key areas of weakness while leaving the Maple Leafs with enough assets that they can still parlay into a trade for additonal help on defence as the Maple Leafs. But the stability that Campbell can bring in goal and the spark Clifford can bring should give the Maple Leafs enough of a push to finally get past Florida and into that third position in the Atlantic Division guaranteeing them a ticket to the playoffs in the spring.
This was a trade that couldn’t happen. All we heard was the Maple Leafs didn’t have the cap space, or would have to overpay to acquire a backup goalie and a grinder to beef up the roster.
As stated in our most recent podcast, “Cooling down the hottest takes in Leafs Nation” I was confident that the Maple Leafs leveraging the depth in their bottom six, could fill the holes in the back-up goalie position and to acquire some grit and sandpaper.
From an asset management perspective, they still have their best tradeable assets like Kapanen, Johnsson and Bracco should Dubas be able to shake another top four defenceman before the deadline. So Dubas struck big, and this should also go a long way to dispel the reigning opinion that Dubas doesn’t like grit and wouldn’t acquire it.
So Leafs Nation with a couple more weeks before the NHL deadline, expect more of the unexpected from Kyle Dubas. In the immediate future, look for the newly acquired Campbell and Clifford to make their Maple Leafs’ debut tomorrow night against the Aneheim Ducks.