The trade we have all been waiting for occurred Monday night around 6:00 PM (EST). Jake Muzzin was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2019 1st round pick, Sean Durzi and Carl Gundstrom. The Leafs have been fishing for another top four defenseman for nearly two years. With this addition of Muzzin it allows the Leafs to play Morgan Reilly-Jake Muzzin, Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev with a third pair of Travis Dermott-Ron Hainsey. Which makes this Leafs team a deeper team on the back end.
More so looking at the trade, the headline makes it seem like Muzzin is not a good addition, by no means should it come off like that. Anytime you add a Stanley Cup winner, a veteran defenseman and someone to pair with Reilly on a consistent basis is always a plus.
Muzzin is a piece to the puzzle not the whole puzzle, hear me out…
What I mean by Muzzin is not the answer. The Leafs are shaping up to play the Canadiens or Bruins. Now if the Bruins end up being the #3 seed and the Leafs stay at #2 it will be the Leafs worst nightmare, in the past decade it seems the Bruins have had the Leafs number, therefore reason one Muzzin is not the answer is because, well will he propel the Leafs over the Bruins? Probably not, so he does not make a huge difference in that regard.
Reason number two Muzzin may not be the complete answer. My concerns about Frederick Anderson still loom, and I am talking playoff Anderson. In years past and hinting on last year Anderson posted a 3.76 goals against (GAA) in 7 games, .896 save percentage and allowed 23 goals on 198 shots. The previous year Anderson posted a 2.68 goals against in six games, the second year he was in Anaheim he posted a 2.34 GAA in 16 games started after a 3.10 GAA in 7 games started the year before. My point is what Anderson will show up in the playoffs this time around? Yes, getting Muzzin does help on the back end but the goalie still needs to stop the puck.
Concern number three with the Leafs is their very young roster of players coming to play in the playoffs, they have Nazem Kadri, John Tavares, Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey with playoff experience but Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander have little playoff experience and I know some people say that means nothing but playoffs is a different game. Getting a team like the Bruins, a team that is young but has so many very well seasoned players and a different team when it comes to the playoffs is no easy feat for the Leafs. If the Leafs get the Canadiens than I would feel more confident in their chances of winning.
Can Muzzin be what Shattenkirk was to Washington two years ago?
I believe Jake Muzzin adds a great dimension to the Leafs defense, it allows Morgan Reilly to play more of an offensive game, it allows Jake Gardiner to play more of an offensive game. Therefore it gives these two offensive minded d-men to go out and play their game. It gives Travis Dermott the experience of playing with a veteran like Ron Hainsey. But the Leafs offense still needs to produce. If the Leafs cannot find a way for William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nazem Kadri to be CONSISTENT than adding Muzzin does not make them automatic cup contenders. The Leafs need to find a way for these young forwards to get into a groove from now throughout the playoffs. If the Leafs cannot get their top-six to be a consistent top-six then they will not be automatic cup winners. Therefore that is why I don’t think Muzzin solves the problem, he is a piece of the puzzle. Look at what happened in Washington two years ago when they added Kevin Shattenkirk to the mix the Capitals needed a offensive-defenseman and they added that but still got bounced early in the playoffs, one player does not make or break a team, they help but the other 17 guys in the line up need to show up too.