The news broke late last night that Jake Muzzin the nine year veteran and Stanley Cup Champion has been traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Muzzin is a big name with a big beard, but more than that he is now the standard that all playoff teams have to match.
Most years at the deadline one team will rent a player that slots into the bottom part of their lineup to adds grit and depth. It’s just bad teams giving up players they don’t want anymore or players that are chasing a cup go to middling playoff teams that have no shot at winning a cup.
This year the the Leafs have made a splash. By acquiring Muzzin they are adding a huge piece to their puzzel. Muzzin will most likely play his off side with Morgan Rielly creating one of the best top pairings in the East. It also pushes other defenseman down the lineup to make their lineup deeper, and more importantly creating more favorable matchups for everyone involved.
Muzzin is adding more than just experience he is 6’3 and 215 pounds. He is a true authentic shutdown defenseman. The second this trade was announced I had a flashback of him waxing Jake Guentzel into the boards a few weeks ago. This guy can play in any system and I imagine that Mike Babcock is salivating at adding him to the lineup.
So what does this mean for the rest of the NHL? Well basically a huge piece is off the board, and with the Trade Deadline a little less then a month away the tires have been officially kicked. Teams who are not yet set like every team in the East that isn’t the Tampa Bay Lightning are now under the gun to get deals done. The Penguins for example are getting Justin Schultz back which is like a trade, but they could still do something especially with Derick Brassard. Teams like the Bruins and Islanders are in good shape but could add a small piece to put them over the top.
So here are some names to keep an eye out for in the upcoming month.
Wayne Simmons – The Flyers forward is a Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the year. The Flyers need picks and pieces to re-build. Simmons is a physical proven playoff performer who could fit in nicely in anyone’s top six.
Derick Brassard – The Penguins believe a strong spine wins championships. Jordan Staal and Nick Bonino were legends during the first two cup runs. Big Game Brass has been anything but. Putting up 12 goals and 23 points in 54 games with the Penguins. Despite having Phil Kessel on his wing for about ten to fifteen games the pace of production has not changed. The Pens will want a stronger third line center headed into the postseason and Brassard will be on his way out.
Mark Stone – The fifty point getter for the Ottawa Senators, is a UFA, and boy howdy would you love to have him on your team. He is a perennial twenty goal scorer and at the age of 26 is a guy you would want to lock up for the long term after this season.
Matt Duchene – Since leaving Colorado it feels like Dushane has never found a home. He is 28 and a UFA. He is in his prime and capable of scoring thirty goals a season when given the proper linemates.
Mats Zuccarello – The 31 year old winger is a pending UFA and a 50 point getter. The Rangers are terrible and in a re-build. Chances are they keep Kevin Hays and lose the star winger.
Henrik Lundqvist – The biggest snub from my Top 10 Goalies of all time list (Top 10 Goalies of All Time) you got to think Hank wants to win a cup. He is 36 and running out of time. You add this to the fact that most of the trade target goalies are on current playoff teams, someone may make a big move to steal the King and make a run to the cup.