Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Clifford-Campbell Conditions Corrected for COVID Compromise

It was a simpler time when the Leafs acquired bruising forward Kyle Clifford and Chief Cheerfulness Officer Jack Campbell on February 5th, 2020. The deal, which sent the large-posteriored Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks (one conditional, we’ll get to that) to the Los Angeles Kings, was made just moments after another disastrous performance by then-backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson, as the Leafs dropped a 5-3 decision to the New York Rangers.

Little did the Leafs, or any of us, know that within five weeks a pandemic would bring the NHL season to a screeching halt. Not only did this complicate everyday citizens’ vacation plans, child care arrangements and personal hygiene efforts, but it also complicated the conditions placed on a 2021 third rounder included in the deal.

Almost five months after the NHL paused their season and just a day before the start of the qualifying round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the league did some housekeeping to re-frame the conditions of trades impacted by the loss of the rest of the regular season and the unique nature of its playoffs.

The changes to the Clifford/Campbell trade conditions net out as below:

Quick Analysis: will the Leafs satisfy the condition?

It’s doubtful. Regarding the Clifford condition, one look at the Leafs’ 2020-21 cap situation shows they need to shed salary just to bring Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev back next year. The chances of bringing back Clifford, even on league minimum contract, seem low now that the cap has been flattened for next season. This trade was originally made with the expectation of a bump up in the salary cap ceiling for the next season, but the new reality is that Clifford has likely been rendered a rental for these playoffs, barring a much bigger deal than we are expecting that frees up considerable cap space.

As for the Campbell condition, it is once again unlikely unless disaster strikes early for the Leafs. Should Frederik Andersen get injured in the first few games of the series or quickly lose the confidence of Sheldon Keefe, Jack Campbell could theoretically be thrust into the starting role. Andersen does seem to have a long leash with Keefe, however, so the most likely of unlikely scenarios would be the incapacitation of Andersen. Even then, Campbell would have to win two games AND the Leafs would have to win the best-of-five.

I’m putting the odds of this happening at Frederik Gauthier Hat Trick-level.

So rest easy, Leafs fans, our 2021 second round pick is probably safe. Time to unearth another Nick Robertson from the pile.