Photo credit:Fanklub Poldi Kladno / Wikicommons
Leafs Trade Tree: How Petr Tenkrat led to the the acquisition of Jack Campbell
1 year ago
On June 15, 2006, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a minor trade with the Boston Bruins in the lead-up to the 2006 Entry Draft.
They sent the rights to Petr Tenkrat, a player they got from the final NHL Waiver Draft in 2003, in exchange for a 2006 seventh-round pick.
No one knew it at the time, but this was the first move of a trade tree that paid dividends for Toronto over a 16-year span. Meanwhile, the Bruins have gotten nothing of value from it due to Tenkrat leaving for Europe after a season in Boston.
Let’s break down the Petr Tenkrat trade tree.
Before we go through the subsequent trades, we need to first look into how the Leafs got Tenkrat in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, he entered the organization back in 2003 during what became the final Waiver Draft. It was an event held for 27 years between 1977 and 2003, which allowed teams to pick up a player of their choosing before the start of the season and help the NHL maintain its “competitive balance.” Teams could protect up to 18 skaters and two goalies, with the rest of their players being available for anyone to claim. It started with more fringe pieces being selected before teams decided to expose their overpaid veterans to clear up some capital (which is how Chris Osgood ended up on the Islanders in 2001).
Part of the rules was that teams who lost a player to the waiver draft had the option of either accepting a cash payment or claiming a player from the other team as compensation. The latter option is what the Leafs chose in 2003 when they let Travis Green get taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets and received the rights to Tenkrat as reimbursement.
Tenkrat would never play for the Leafs during the three seasons they had his rights and spent the entire time in Finald with Oulun Karpat. He recorded 106 points in 124 games in that span while also being a productive player in the playoffs on route to two straight Kanada-malja trophies, the Finnish equivalent of the Stanley Cup. Tenkrat himself said that Toronto did try and sign him to a two-year contract but he turned it down because it was a two-way contract.
With no progress being made on a contract, the Leafs decided to trade his rights to the Bruins for a seventh-round pick about a week before the 2006 NHL Draft. Tenkrat went on to sign with Boston and spent a season there where he recorded 14 points in 64 games. He also spent time in the AHL which led to him signing with Swedish side Timra IK in 2007 and would never return to North America again.
It was at the 2006 Draft that the first branch of this trade tree formed.
The first branch
On draft night, the Leafs made a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes to move up in the draft. Toronto packaged off the seventh acquired in the Tenkrat trade along with their own seventh to acquire the Coyotes’ sixth-round pick.
Phoenix used the pick that originally belonged to Boston to select defenceman Chris Frank. He never made it to the NHL after parts of four season split between the AHL and ECHL. The other pick was used to draft right winger Benn Ferriero, who did reach the NHL but spent none of them in the desert. After spending four years at Boston College, the Coyotes opted not to sign Ferriero and he was subsequently snatched up by the Sharks in 2009. He would also play for the Rangers and Canucks, recording 23 points in 98 games played.
While the two picks the Coyotes got amounted to nothing, the Leafs were able to find value with the sixth-rounder as they used it to draft Viktor Stalberg.
Following a three-year stint with the University of Vermont, the Leafs signed him to an entry-level contract in April 2009 and immediately joined the Marlies for their 2009 playoff run where he suited up in two games and registered an assist. Stalberg would subsequently split the following 2009-10 season between the NHL and AHL, recording 14 points in 40 NHL games and 33 points in 39 AHL games.
He was making progress to become a steady contributor in the bottom six and could have found himself to be a regular fixture in the Leafs’ lineup for years to come. That all changed when a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup champions was made available in the offseason.
The second branch
After winning the Cup, Chicago was strapped for cash and was forced to ship out players to sign their restricted free agents. One of those casualties was Kris Versteeg, who was packaged off with the rights to Bill Sweatt and sent to Toronto. In exchange, the Leafs traded Stalberg, Chris DiDomenico, and Philippe Paradis to the Windy City.
On Chicago’s end, Stalberg went on to become a mainstay in their bottom six and helped them capture the 2013 Stanley Cup. DiDomenico would spend the majority of his career bouncing between leagues and even got a brief stint with the Senators in 2017. Paradis never made it to the NHL.
The Leafs were unable to get Sweatt signed and he became a free agent nearly two months later before being picked up by the Canucks. He would only suit up in three NHL games and spent the rest of his career in Sweden.
As for Versteeg, he would only spend a season with the Leafs but certainly made the most of his limited time there. In 53 games played, the winger would pot 14 goals, 21 assists, and 35 points, good enough for sixth on the team in scoring. Versteeg was reportedly never happy during his time in Toronto, which wasn’t helped by his reduced ice time and unstable position in the lineup.
With a diminished asset who wanted a change of scenery, GM Brian Burke was left with no choice but to deal away one of the acquisitions of the 2010 offseason.
The third branch
Burke was able to find a taker in the Flyers as the Leafs sent Versteeg to Philadelphia in exchange for a 2011 first and third-round pick.
Versteeg would finish out the season with the Flyers before being traded again to the Panthers. He would subsequently bounce around the league, which included a return to Chicago for his second Cup in 2015, before finishing his career in Slovakia.
The first-rounder would wind up being the 25th overall pick and Toronto used it to select defenceman Stuart Percy. He had plenty of promise to potentially become a top-four defenceman but was unable to make the jump due to suffering numerous injuries and not making the most of his opportunities. Percy would only play in 12 games with the Leafs split between two seasons, where he only registered three assists. He would exit the organization in the summer of 2016 after Toronto opted to not tender him a qualifying offer. From there, Percy would spend the next five years bouncing between AHL teams before opting to play in Europe, where he currently plays for Ceske Budejovice HC.
Meanwhile, the third-rounder would stick around for much longer as the Leafs decided to use it to bring in Josh Leivo. He was a player that was too good for the AHL but could never land a permanent role in Toronto due to a combination of injuries, players higher up the depth chart, and the coaching staff not entrusting him with consistent playing time.
After bouncing between the AHL and NHL for four straight seasons, Leivo finally earned a permanent spot on the roster in 2017-18 but continued to remain a healthy scratch a majority of the time. The frustration of not getting many minutes reached a boiling point when reports came out in February 2018 that he had requested a trade for a chance to play elsewhere.
Lou Lamoriello would not honour his request, but a new GM for the Leafs would do so 10 months later.
The fourth branch
Leivo finally started playing more regularly due to William Nylander not signing a contract to begin the 2018-19 season. But once Nylander got his extension, it became clear that Leivo was once again going to be a regular healthy scratch. So Kyle Dubas stayed true to his promise to Leivo that a move would occur should that be the case, and sent him to the Canucks in exchange for prospect Michael Carcone.
Leivo did indeed get consistent minutes with the Canucks, but the production never really came and he would soon move around the league by consistently one-year deals. He made stops with the Flames and Hurricanes, where he helped their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, win the 2022 Calder Cup, before inking a deal with the Blues this past offseason.
Carcone would finish out the year with the Marlies where he would go on to record 27 points in 42 games played. Combined with his 17 points with the Utica Comets, he ended up registering a career-high 44 points on the season.
His contract was set to expire during the 2019 offseason and instead of giving him an extension, the Leafs decided to package him off in a blockbuster trade.
The fifth branch
After a promising rookie season that netted him a seven-year contract extension, Nikita Zaitsev struggled mightily over the next two campaigns. Toronto had an albatross of a contract on its hands and had to get rid of it somehow, which they were able to do when the Senators came calling.
The blockbuster trade saw Carcone, Zaitsev, and Connor Brown traded to Ottawa in exchange for Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and a third-round pick in 2020.
Carcone would continue to bounce around the AHL over the next few seasons before settling with the Coyotes organization in 2021, where he remains to this day. He even got a 21-game stint last season where he potted six points in that span. Brown’s production saw an uptick after moving to our nation’s capital and has since been traded to the Capitals where has gone scoreless through his first four games in Washington. As for Zaitsev, the struggles continued and it got so bad that Ottawa placed him on waivers back in November and went unclaimed.
Ceci would sign a one-year contract with the Leafs where he only posted eight points in 56 games played while adding a goal in the bubble. Toronto let him walk afterwards and would go on to spend a season with the Penguins and secure a four-year deal with the Oilers.
The other three assets would also not remain long in the organization but would instead be traded.
The last branch
Harpur failed to crack the Leafs’ lineup for the 2019-20 season and was reassigned to the Marlies to begin the year. His 11 points made him a regular in the AHL but were not enough to bring him back to the NHL. Thus, the Leafs made him expendable and found a taker in the Predators who sent them Miikka Salomaki. Harpur would spend parts of three seasons in Nashville before leaving in free agency to sign with the Rangers. Salomaki would spend the rest of the year in the AHL before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was not re-signed and spent a year with the Avalanche and has since returned to Europe.
Luchuk was primarily with the Growlers for his lone season in the Leafs’ organization but was then sent back to the Senators along with a conditional sixth in exchange for Max Veronneau on February 19th. Luchuk would get traded again a few days later to the Canadiens and has since made the move overseas. Veronneau only appeared in three AHL games and played two seasons abroad before signing a one-year contract with the Sharks this past summer.
It was the third-round pick from the Blue Jackets that would bring the most value to the Leafs as they made a trade for a future All-Star.
The Kings would use that third-round pick to select Alex Laferriere while the conditional third would be traded to the Flames which they used to draft Cameron Whynot. Trevor Moore has gone on to become a reliable player for the Kings over the past three seasons, including a 48-point campaign last season to help LA reach the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. He is due for an extension this summer and likely will get a new deal that should keep him with his boyhood team for the foreseeable future.
As for what the Leafs received, Jack Campbell was an immediate sensation at a time when the Leafs were desperate for some stable goaltending behind a struggling Frederik Andersen. Campbell would work his way into the starting role in the 2021 shortened season and earned a spot in the 2022 All-Star game en route to Toronto’s best regular-season finish in franchise history.
While he was unable to help his team advance past the first round, his three-year tenure in Toronto proved to be a success as he went 51-14-9 and recorded seven shutouts, averaging a .916 SV% and a 2.47 GAA in that span. The Leafs decided not to renew his contract and he opted to move to Edmonton, where it has been a struggle to say the least.
Meanwhile, Kyle Clifford brought tenacity and sandpaper into the bottom six while recording three points in the final 16 games before the season shut down. He then went scoreless in five playoff games and was allowed to walk in free agency where he signed with the Blues. Clifford spent parts of two seasons in St. Louis before returning to Toronto last season for future considerations. He would earn a two-year extension back in March and should remain a veteran depth piece for the foreseeable future.
While Clifford does remains with the organization to this day, the Petr Tenkrat trade tree technically ended when Campbell left for Alberta this past offseason. But if you believe the way in which Clifford was brought back keeps it alive, then the Tenkrat trade will continue to bring value to the Leafs for years to come.
What began as a player acquired in the final ever waiver draft being swapped for a seventh-round draft pick evolved into a trade tree that saw the Leafs bring in a two-way forward, a former Cup winner, some draft picks, a prospect, and an All-Star goaltender. So long as Clifford remains with the organization, this trade tree may or may not be alive and well 16 years later.
Not bad for a player who was acquired as compensation for losing a future head coach of the Canucks. Thank you, Petr Tenkrat!
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