The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenceman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi, and a 2019 first-round pick, the team announced Monday.
“We feel this trade was necessary for the future of the organization,” Kings general manager Rob Blake said in a statement. “Moving Jake was not easy as he has been a key player for us and a significant part of our most historic and memorable achievements. We are grateful for his contributions to the Kings and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Muzzin was a former fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007. But the Pens let him walk, allowing the blue-liner to ink an entry-level deal with the Kings. He would spend some time in the AHL before playing in 45 regular-season games in 2012-13. He would be a full-time NHLer the next season and helped the Kings capture their second Stanley Cup in three years by putting up 12 points in 26 postseason contests.
From there, he would be a staple in Los Angeles’ top-four. This season, Muzzin has 21 points in 50 games. He has posted three 40-plus point campaigns in the past four years and could still realistically eclipse that number again if he has a good tail end of the season..
Muzzin will assume a spot on the Leafs’ top pairing alongside Morgan Rielly, while Ron Hainsey will play on the third pair, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
“I was a little shocked to get the phone call.” Muzzin said during a conference call, according to TSN’s Kristen Shilton. “Very excited to join Toronto, I was just thinking about playing them (with LA), how we got beat (twice), and I was like ‘damn,’ so now to be a part of that team, I’m really excited for the opportunity.”
In Toronto, the Woodstock, ON., native will be reunited with Mike Babcock, who coached him during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The 29-year-old will bring some added playoff experience to the Leafs defensive core. Muzzin stands at 6-foot-3, can play both the penalty kill and power play, and has logged 21:32 of ice time per night – the second-highest amount among Kings defenceman behind only Drew Doughty. He now sits third on the Leafs back end in terms of time on ice after Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner.
Grundstrom, 21, was a second-round pick of the Leafs in 2016. He has spent the entire year with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, where he’s posted 13 goals and 29 points in 42 games.
Durzi was the Leafs’ second-rounder in the 2018 draft. This season, the 20-year-old has put up 28 points in 26 games split between the Owen Sound Attack and Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.