After another two points slip away from the Maple Leafs last night at the Garden, GM Kyle Dubas finally pulled the trigger on a deal sending goaltending help to the blue and white. It comes in the form of Jack Campbell, a former 1st round, 11th overall pick by the Dallas Stars in 2010 NHL draft. Campbell has been part of the Los Angeles Kings’ organization backing up Jonathan Quick since the 2016-2017 season and has posted an 8-10-2 record with a GAA of 2.85, and a save percentage of .900 so far this season.
In Los Angeles, Jack Campbell worked under goaltending coach Bill Ranford, who has been with the Kings for 13 years. In those years, Ranford has helped goaltenders such as Jonathan Quick, Darcy Kuemper, Jonathan Bernier, and Martin Jones become established, solid NHL goaltenders. In a September interview, Ranford raved about the strides Campbell has taken to better his career, mentioning the fact that he believes Campbell is capable of being a teams’ #1 goalie at some point. Campbell will most likely get his first start for the Leafs on Friday night against the Ducks.
As if this trade wasn’t interesting enough for the Leafs playoff push, they also acquired Kyle Clifford in this trade, with half of his salary being retained by the Kings. Clifford is exactly what the Leafs lacked, a big, physical presence that can drop the gloves and defend his teammates when needed. The Leafs haven’t had a player like this since Matt Martin, who was a great locker room influence and someone the younger Leafs looked up too. Kings’ strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Clark had this to say about Clifford when asked about him in a 2019 Los Angeles Times article, “If you go after anybody he’s connected to, he’ll go after you … I didn’t have to turn up the confidence or turn up the nuts factor. We had to go from angry and crazy [to calm him down]. Our goal was making him more into a calm and calculated enforcer.” This season with the Kings, Clifford has taken 8 penalties and drawn 6, which is respectable for an enforcer. However, his average AB score for the nine years of data we have on him is a -2.56, which obviously isn’t very high. Kyle Clifford is a player whose intangibles are what has kept him in the league for a decade. He is a great locker room guy; he is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and actually made the Cup-clinching pass to Alec Martinez against the Rangers in double overtime. He is a leader that players and coaches respect, and he appears to have adapted his game to fit this newer game of hockey. Last season, he set a career-high with 11 goals and 21 pts in 72 games. This season he is on pace to break that with 6 goals and 14pts in 53 games. Playing with the Leafs talented forward group may just help him do that, and in a contract year no less. Leafs fans will get to see their two newest acquisitions against the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night at 7pm EST. More to come, as trade season is now finally underway.