NEW YORK — Moments after Michael Hutchinson’s Broadway moment flopped, the Maple Leafs made the call to bring in a new understudy.
After a 5-3 loss to the Rangers, some but not all of it down to Hutchinson, they acquired goaltender Jack Campbell and feisty forward Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Trevor Moore and the third-round pick that belonged to Columbus in the 2020 draft, as well as a conditional third-round pick in 2021.
Campbell, who could play as early as Friday at Scotiabank Arena against the Anaheim Ducks, had a record of 8-10 for the fading Kings as Jonathan Quick’s backup with a save percentage of .900. The 28-year-old is from Port Huron, Mich., and once played for Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas in the OHL with Sault Ste. Marie.
Campbell was at $ 675,000 US for this year and has two more seasons at $ 1.65 million. A former first-round pick of Dallas, his career NHL record is 20-25-5 with a .916 save percentage.
Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe were shuffling nervously the past few games as Andersen suffered a neck injury, one that Keefe insists he’s not getting medical updates on, other than listing the Dane as day-to-day.
If the trade was not already in the works, Wednesday was likely the tipping point with the inconsistent Hutchinson now beaten seven times in five periods and the Leafs sitting outside of the wild-card playoff pack.
Clifford, a career King with a mean streak from Ayr, Ont., would also help a team that needs some grit and got into two minor scraps on Wednesday, including rare participant John Tavares.
It will certainly be a wake-up call for all the Leafs, after two passive losses to Eastern playoff rival which showed more drive and focus.
The Kings will retain 50% of Clifford’s $ 800,000 US salary with the Leafs trying to hold fast under the salary cap.
Moore spent at least one double-shift on Monday with fellow California-born Auston Matthews, before the Thousand Oaks native found himself heading home.
Dubas and Keefe departed Madison Square Garden right after the trade was announced to avoid reporters with Thursday a scheduled day off.
Keefe’s laundry list of concerns were some of the questionable goals surrendered, but also the breakdowns that led to two in a New York minute (actually six seconds) and another just 34 ticks after Matthews’ second goal of the night had given the Leafs some hope.
“In terms of Hutch, we need saves as a team, for him to be better in those spots when we have those lapses,” Keefe said right after the match. “Their fourth goal was pretty defeating and devastating, frankly. We just didn’t have anything after that. Our team has to do a better job protecting (goalies).”
“Their first goal was bang-bang, we’ll give them that (by Mika Zibanejad after Chris Kreider schooled Matthews on the draw), but the second one, to not be alive and ready off the draw, that’s just making life hard on the goalie.
“(Hutchinson) dropped his stick on the fourth one (and thus was not set for Pavel Buchnevich’s five-hole drive) but we need a save there.”
Matthews, who wound up a combined minus-10 on the night with regular linemates Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman, realized he has been put out after the first of the Rangers fast strikes to redeem himself. Thus there was no celebrating of his 38th and 39th goals that kept him in the Rocket Richard Trophy race with Alex Ovechkin and David Pastrnak. Matthews also reached 150 NHL goals.
There was no shortage of NHL scouts at MSG to report back on Toronto’s troubles. Missing Matthews’ first goal was one of the few flubs by Igor Shesterkin, the latest unknown Rangers goalie to stymie the Leafs. He got across to get a pad on Hyman’s shot that could have been pivotal early in the game.
The Rangers, who were trying to interest teams such as the Leafs on Alexandar Georgiev, turned to their more likely goalie of the future, Shesterkin, with veteran Henrik Lundqvist struggling. With their own playoff hopes in trouble — Frank Sinatra’s Impossible Dream rang out as they came on the ice — the Rangers, like the Panthers on Monday came out with purpose and with Chris Kreider healthy again.
With defenceman Morgan Rielly still out long term, the Leafs also lost Cody Ceci from the blueline, spotted limping off late in the game. Keefe had no word on the severity of Ceci’s injury.