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Maple Leafs trade Garret Sparks to Golden Knights for David Clarkson

David Clarkson has been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Garret Sparks. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

The Toronto Maple Leafs will trade goaltender Garret Sparks to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for the contract of forward David Clarkson and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

Clarkson hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season and is currently on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) with no intention of returning.

The Maple Leafs will certainly place Clarkson on LTIR as a means to create cap space, with the goal of signing restricted free agent Mitch Marner to a lucrative, long-term deal.

Sparks will now compete against Malcolm Subban for the Golden Knights’ backup goaltender role, with Marc Andre-Fleury entrenched as the starter.

Ahead of the 2018-19 season, Sparks won the backup role for the Maple Leafs, with Frederik Andersen continuing to face one of the heaviest volumes of starts in the NHL. Sparks led the AHL’s Toronto Marlies to a Calder Cup victory in 2017-18 and was named as the league’s best goaltender.

Sparks signed a one-year, $750,000 extension with the Maple Leafs in March but drew criticism after he called out his team for not showing enough emotion amid a mid-March slump, highlighted by a 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The 26-year-old posted a .902 save percentage and 3.15 goals against average in 2018-19, sporting a 8-9-1 record.

Toronto recently signed Michal Neuvirth, who will battle against Michael Hutchinson for the backup spot, rendering Sparks expendable.

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