The first major blockbuster of the 2019 NHL trade deadline season took place abruptly on Monday evening, as the Los Angeles Kings traded defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for former second-round picks Sean Durzi and Carl Grundstrom, as well as a first-round pick in 2019.
Muzzin has spent his entire seven-year NHL career with the Kings. He has quietly transformed himself into a high-caliber top-pairing defenseman while playing in the shadows of Drew Doughty.
Although he is left-handed, Muzzin has the ability to play on both sides of the ice, which was key for Toronto in this deal. Toronto is especially weak on the back-end and on the right side, but this deal helps eliminates those issues.
Muzzin is having a simply fantastic year on a dismal Kings roster. Through 50 games, he has 21 points, and his analytical numbers are trending upwards. On a much, much, much better Maple Leafs team, he should thrive.
Another key aspect that helps this deal for Toronto is the fact that Muzzin has term left. He is signed through next season on a reasonable $4.45 million AAV deal.
Muzzin will command a large salary bump when the time comes, but he is the perfect potential stopgap option for general manager Kyle Dubas’ team, who is already strapped for cap.
Los Angeles ended well in the deal, too.
The Kings clearly needed to rebuild and this is the first step. General manager Rob Blake was able to get two top prospects and a first-round pick in a deep draft for one of his key assets. All in all, it is a formidable return.
This deal has all the bearings to come out as one where both teams win. Toronto enters win-now mode, and Los Angeles enters the rebuild. Both teams get exactly what they are looking for, but now only time will tell how it turns out. The Kings certainly have to play long-term ball on this one, but in the end, it is likely going to be a deal that will leave each franchise with no regrets.