Breaking down the Trevor Moore Blockbuster

Today we say goodbye to a Leafs legend. A guy that hasn’t scored a goal since game six of the season. A guy who hasn’t picked up a point since game eight. A guy who is recovering from an injury, and has numbers befitting a bubble fourth line/13F player. This is really all we should have to say about Trevor Moore, who was well liked because of a comical comment about his ass, but really was a throw-in so the Leafs could remain under 50 contracts and the Kings can trot out a California boy for a few games this year.

On to the what the Leafs addressed in this deal.

  • Need for a backup goaltender that you aren’t terrified by
  • Team toughness in the form of someone who can play hockey

Jack Campbell

After Elliotte Friedman connected the dots between the Leafs and Campbell earlier today, I put together some thoughts on Campbell that still hold pretty true now

There are obvious benefits from bringing in a goaltender that your coach is familiar with, and the GM knows what to expect from them. There’s the fact that Campbell’s contract is very friendly this season at $675k, but it does jump to $1.65M for the next two years. The nice part of that is the contract is still reasonable and would seemingly buy the time needed for Woll or possibly Scott to develop into that backup role.

There is a bit of a Bill Ranford factor, where he’s made some goalies look pretty good in LA that didn’t translate to being so great under other coaches (looks directly at Jonathan Bernier) and there’s also some pre-Kings history that supports that he might be underwhelming. This year Campbell is sitting at a .900 Sv% in 20 games, which isn’t exactly the .928% in 31 games he enjoyed last season, but both represent an upgrade over Hutchinson, and exhibit the potential for a goaltender who can take on some of Andersen’s work down the stretch.

In addition to some familiarity with Dubas and Keefe, Campbell will have worked with Jake Muzzin in a limited capacity as well. There’s also a very good chance that Dubas did his due diligence and worked with Steve Briere on which goaltenders around the league he could see as a fit for himself and the organization, and we can at least guess at Campbell not being a hard no for him, which is good because he’ll have two more years of working with Campbell after this one, which is also nice to see the Leafs will have a known duo heading into next season, and now at least one goaltender under contract beyond that.

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All Strengths 5v5
Campbell (19-20) .900 (46) .741 (58) -4.82 (42) .915 (40) .769 (56) -1.90 (41)
Hutchinson .886 (58) .788 (50) -9.59 (51) .894 (59) .805 (45) -8.24 (52)
Campbell (18-19) .928 .820 15.16 .934 .825 9.85
Minimum 600 minutes (rank out of 60 goaltenders)
Data via Natural Stat Trick

Looking at the numbers on Campbell, there’s a clear upgrade over Hutchinson, even if he’s not at the unsustainably fantastic numbers of last season. Numbers which should at least provide us with some hope that now that he’s been removed from the second worst team in the league, we’ll see his numbers go up. There may be some concern about that high danger save percentage, and there should be, but given the Leafs love of pushing the play to the point in their own zone, Campbell might thrive with fewer drives on the net.

Kyle Clifford

Again to toot my own horn a little, Clifford was a player I identified as favourable rental for the Leafs a while back,

Generally Clifford’s career has gone pretty darn well as a solid bottom six forward, but this year has been a setback. Potentially the Leafs could buy low on someone they’ve been rumoured to be interested in a for a while, and it’s entirely possible moving him away from his lottery team surroundings will address some issues.

Where Clifford helps the Leafs is that he adds a ton of defensive responsibility to a forward group that isn’t particularly fond of backchecking. If Clifford is available cheap this would be a solid move for Toronto.

While Clifford might not have been cheap, the Leafs certainly didn’t overpay for him, but we’ll get to that later.

There is the additional connection that Clifford has to Kyle Dubas, as Clifford was the first client of Dubas when he was a player agent. There is obviously some value in bringing in players that you are familiar with and know what you can expect from them, but breaking down Clifford shows that he’s more than that too…

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  • Clifford is a 29 year old pending UFA. I’d probably expect him to re-sign with the Leafs unless this two month experiment doesn’t go well
  • Clifford is not a goal scorer. His 11 goals last year were a career high and he’s presently sitting at 6 this year. His 21 points last year were also a career high and he’s sitting at 14 this season.
  • Clifford hasn’t had a negative corsi differential since his rookie debut in 2010-11.
  • Clifford hasn’t had a negative expected goal differential since 2011-12.
  • Clifford might be putting those numbers up in sheltered situations, but what do you want from a bottom six forward.
  • Clifford brings toughness to the lineup. He has three fights this year, and had six last year. You don’t mind this because he can also play hockey. Also he brings practical toughness not just face punching.

Clifford isn’t a penalty killer. He’s not Zach Hyman and going to compliment two talented forwards on a top line. He’s a gritty cannon ball that will be tough to play against, but things won’t go badly when he’s on the ice. He’s an element that has been missing from the Leafs for a while, and they acquired him at a pretty reasonable price.

What Toronto gave up


So we’ll start with the 2020 3rd round pick. As someone who loves the draft and prospects, the idea of giving up a draft pick always stings, and in this case the Leafs gave up two. The 3rd round pick in 2020 was the Leafs second highest pick in the draft since they already lost their 1st by offloading Patrick Marleau. This should be concerning, but the Leafs will have plenty of time following the season and over the draft to recoup draft picks, especially since they will be looking to offload more salary to reallocate in other ways over the summer. It’s not unreasonable to think that the Leafs will find a way to pick more than once in the first 100 draft picks, and even if they don’t, I’ve become very comfortable with what Kyle Dubas can do in the later rounds.

As for the conditional 2021 3rd round pick, well, that’s the least it will be. It moves up to a 2nd if Campbell picks up six wins this year or if Kyle Clifford re-signs with the Leafs. I’d count on both of these things happening, so treat it like a 2nd. That’s a bit more of a steep price. Again, the Leafs have 16 months to recoup that pick.

Assuming that the truth on Campbell is somewhere between his 2018-19 season and his 2019-20 season, a second round pick isn’t a bad price to pay for a backup who will give you 30 games easy. If those games are good, it will look like a steal, but let’s not count on that yet.

Renting Kyle Clifford for a 3rd is probably what the price was always going to be. Maybe a 4th, but the salary retention justifies moving it up to a 3rd.

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As for Trevor Moore, well, I’m sure Dubas started with seeing if they’d take Harpur or Timashov, but the Kings wanted the California kid. He was moved so the Leafs would be at 49 contracts instead of 50, giving them future flexibility and so they could offload some salary from their roster. He’s not an asset the Kings acquired, he was a logistical move for the Leafs.

So in summary, the Leafs paid a fair price. They didn’t steal anyone and maybe paid more of a price than they would have right at the deadline, but at least on Campbell, there was a need to act sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to see if this is it for the Leafs or if this is the start of a very active February.