If a report by TSN's Darren Dreger is accurate, the Toronto Maple Leafs may have laid eyes on a target by the trade deadline. That target appears to be Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Dreger was on TSN 1050 speculating on what the Toronto Maple Leafs and GM Kyle Dubas will do as they approach the trade deadline on February 25, 2019. Clearly in need of bolstering their blueline, while a left-handed d-man, Muzzin would certainly improve a defensive corps that, if improved, could make the Maple Leafs a Stanley Cup contender this season. But, the entire management group is having a hard time deciding how willing they are to trade assets for a player like Muzzin.
Dreger says that the asking price for Jake Muzzin is a first round pick and a prospect and while recent reports have suggested the Maple Leafs are ok moving both, which prospect becomes the real question of concern. Is Muzzin worth moving someone like Kasperi Kapanen? Would the team move Andreas Johnsson for Muzzin?
The Maple Leafs have said they'd prefer to move something of value for a player with term, avoiding nabbing a pure rental that the team could lose at the end of the season. Muzzin has one year left at $4 million per season after this year, thus he partially fits that need and does so at an affordable price.
What This Means
If acquired, Muzzin becomes an immediate upgrade but someone needs to potentially switch spots on the blue line in Toronto. The Maple Leafs have Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner both as left-handed defensemen and Toronto clearly won't give up valuable assets for a player who will slot in on the third pairing.
But, in the event Toronto loses Gardiner after this season ends, the Maple Leafs have their top-two lefties set for next season and at a reasonable cap hit. If the team can navigate the next couple months positionally with all these players, adding Muzzin might not be a bad plan.