Kings Send Muzzin to Maple Leafs
The Los Angeles Kings trade defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for left wing Carl Gundstrom, the rights to unsigned prospect Sean Durzi, and the Leafs first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings appear to be getting an early start on their rebuild while the Leafs pick up an experienced top-four defenseman.
Muzzin, 29, is a skilled all-around defenseman whose performance in 2018-19 was among the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable campaign for the once-mighty Kings. He’s tallied 21 points in 50 games thus far this season, has three 40-plus point seasons on his resume and won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014.
The Leafs need depth on the right side of their blueline but Muzzin is a left-shot defenseman who plays on the left side. Perhaps they’ll shift him to the right side or move another left-side rearguard over to the right.
Muzzin is signed through 2019-20 with an affordable $4 million salary-cap hit. His acquisition suggests the Leafs don’t intend to re-sign Jake Gardiner, who’s due to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Don’t expect to see Grundstrom or Durzi skating with the Kings this season. Both could be part of the club’s long-term plans.
Grundstrom, 21, played with the Leafs AHL affiliate and will likely report to the Kings’ farm team. Scouting reports suggest he has potential as a versatile two-way forward with a good work ethic who can skate on either wing. Durzi, 20, is a defenseman with the OHL’s Guelph Storm who was selected by the Leafs in the second round of the 2018 draft. He’s considered a mobile blueliner.
As for the first-round pick, it could end up in the bottom third of that round, depending upon where the Leafs finish in the standings. The Kings could keep that selection or use it as a trade chip to bring in more immediate help.