Less than three weeks from the NHL’s trade deadline, the last-place Kings made their first significant trade of the season Wednesday night.
Goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford were sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks (one in 2020, and a conditional pick in 2021), as the Kings kicked off what could be an active month for the rebuilding franchise.
Campbell, 28, has been the Kings’ primary backup goalie for the last two seasons and likely will serve the same role for a Maple Leafs team in the thick of playoff contention despite inconsistent play in goal. After signing a two-year contract extension this summer that kicks in next season, Campbell was 8-10-2 in 20 starts this season with a 2.85 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.
Clifford, 29, has been a longtime fan favorite in Los Angeles. Though he only has 129 points in 660 career games, including 14 points in 53 games this season, the two-way forward, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, was a member of the Kings’ two Stanley Cup-winning squads in 2012 and 2014. He developed an important leadership role in the locker room as one of the franchise’s longest-tenured players. According to the Maple Leafs, the Kings will pay half of Clifford’s salary. His cap hit this season is $800,000, according to CapFriendly.
In return, the Kings added Moore, a Southern California native who has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 51 career games, and bolstered their collection of upcoming draft picks – a central focus for general manager Rob Blake.
Though the Kings covet selections in the top two rounds, the addition of this summer’s third-round pick, which originally belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets, gives the Kings six picks in the top four rounds of the upcoming draft. The conditional 2021 third-round selection could reportedly become a second-round selection if Clifford resigns with the Maple Leafs or if this season Campbell wins six regular-season games and the Maple Leafs make the playoffs.
Last summer, the Kings made seven picks in the top four rounds, including two each in the first and second rounds, and this preseason Blake said he hoped to obtain a similar number of picks for the 2020 draft.
“I don’t think a year from now, or the draft two years away, we’re going to have that ability,” Blake said. “But I do think last year’s number of draft picks and this year’s should be very similar.”
Moore, 24, is originally from Thousand Oaks and played for the Los Angeles Selects Hockey Club as a youth. After three seasons at the University of Denver, the undrafted winger signed with Toronto and made his NHL debut last season. In 26 games with the Maple Leafs this season, he has five points (three goals, two assists), a minus-three rating and averaged 13:01 of ice time. He will wear No. 12 with the Kings.
Campbell’s departure also sets the stage for Kings goalie prospect Cal Petersen, who was also recalled to the NHL on Wednesday night. The 25-year-old is considered a possible successor to longtime No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick, and has a 3.43 goals-against average and .906 save percentage with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. In 11 career NHL games, which all came last season, Petersen recorded a 2.60 goals-against-average and .924 save percentage.
The Kings still have other potential trade assets on their roster, including forward Tyler Toffoli (who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer) and defenseman Alec Martinez (who is under contract through next season). Forward Trevor Lewis and defensemen Derek Forbort, Ben Hutton and Joakim Ryan are also on expiring contracts for the Kings, who have won only two of their last 12 games and are 17 points from a playoff spot.