Toronto Maple Leafs

Who Were The Most Improved Toronto Maple Leafs?

Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs increased their production this year – here is how they did it.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans are notoriously susceptible to narrative swings – one minute Kapanen is the new fan favorite, and a trade untouchable – the next he’s the cause of Auston Matthews‘ frustration and an irrelevant RFA. As such, it’s helpful to do a more detailed breakdown of the most improved, how they improved, and what to expect moving forward. While these players have made strides and important contributions this year, the impact of their teammates is a key factor in evaluating their point production.

Improvements In Per 60 Metrics

The above chart illustrates improvements in selected metrics at 5v5 – Points per 60, Goals per 60, and Assists per 60 – during the 2018-2019 season. Each dot represents an NHL player with at least 20 GP – players to the right of 0 improved on that metric, while players to the left saw a decline in that metric.

As we’ve already noted, Marner, Kapanen, and Rielly saw the largest increase in P/60 production, with each scoring roughly 1 point more game in comparison to last year. You’ll also note that these are some of the more impressive improvements in the league, with relatively few dots lying to the right of our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rielly saw the largest G/60 improvement amongst the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s probably not a surprise to those of us who watched him score virtually every shot he took through December onwards.

Marner and Kapanen saw slight G/60 improvements, but both had large increases in A/60.

So, how exactly did these players improve their 5v5 numbers?

It’s possible they produced more chances, or they could have converted chances at a higher rate than the last year, resulting in more points. Let’s take a look by player:

Mitch Marner

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With contract negotiations ongoing, Marner’s surge in production due to playing with John Tavares is an oft-cited reason to pay him less money. I am going to avoid arguing with myself about Marner’s contract for now, but I will take a look at Marner’s line combinations during the past two seasons:

As the above graphic shows, in 2017-18, Marner split time with Patrick Marleau/Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk (JVR)/Tyler Bozak before playing the entirety of last year with Zach Hyman/John Tavares. Also evident is the slight bump in Expected Goals, which is the number of Expected Goals the line contributed while on the ice. Using this as a proxy for generating offense, Marner’s line did produce more chances this year – and this would result in between 0.3 – 0.6 goals per 60 for the line, independent of shooting percentage.

Marner’s On Ice Shooting Percentage

Next, we’ll look at on ice shooting percentage. We see another difference here – particularly with the JVR/Bozak line which shot 6.8% that year compared to 10.8% for Tavares/Hyman this year. This contributed to an extra 1.21 G/60 when you compare the totals from both seasons. In addition, it seems most likely that the increase in shooting percentage is the main driver of Marner’s improvement this year. It’s up for debate whether or not Marner has a roll in the increase in shooting percentage via creating better scoring chances, however this should manifest in the Expected Goals figures and a more detailed argument of this fact is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Kasperi Kapanen

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In the 2017-18 season, Kapanen had a pretty limited role, playing 38 games and averaging 11:15 minutes in average ice time. During those minutes, he played mostly with Leo Komarov and Dominic Moore – not exactly an offensive juggernaut. That line wasn’t actually terrible at creating chances according to expected goals. But, Kapanen did see a slight increase in expected goals on all the lines he played on in 2018-19. The Auston Matthews/Andreas Johnsson line was particularly good, and the other combinations could raise questions about Marleau’s impact. So similar to Marner, a change in role for Kapanen resulted in a slight bump in the chances created while on the ice.

Kapanen’s On Ice Shooting Percentage

As with Kapanen, what is likely the more important driver is the switch from Leo Komarov/Moore, who lacked almost any shooting talent with a 4.8 shooting percentage, to Matthews who has personally shot over 13% at 5v5 in all three of his season so far. This results in an increase of 1.83 G/60 on the lines that Kapanen played with, a pretty substantial increase. A lot has been made of Kapanen’s rush ability, he has been described as bit of a lone wolf who will leaf both teammates and opponents in the dust with his speed. While his play with Matthews ebbed and erred during the season, these facts support the conclusion that he needs a shooter on his line to finish off the plays he creates with his legs, whether this is Matthews or someone else.

Morgan Rielly

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The graph below displays some of the key metrics we looked at earlier for Rielly. Being that he’s played much of the past two seasons with Ron Hainsey, I don’t think his 5v5 improvement is being influenced by any change of his roll. As you can see, Rielly’s Individual Expected Goals did tick up slightly last year, but was in line with past seasons, and he actually created more chances in 2017. However, his shooting percentage skyrocketed to almost 9% last season and that looks like the likely driver of his points and goals per 60 improvement.

Looking ahead…

All this talk of shooting percentage is not to say the players detailed above had no influence on their improvement. All three players, but particularly Marner and Kapanen, skated with confidence/spark that they had yet to display consistently. For Marner, that meant continuing the momentum from the end of last year to prove his worth as a member of the core. For Kapanen, it was a semi-surprising display of his ability to play top 6 minutes and be a difference-maker at 5v5.

Despite these facts, the stated increases in their top line numbers have a lot to do with their situation, and shooting talent. We should praise these players on their ability to fit and contribute on these lines, but pull short of giving too much credit for their individual contributions.

data/stats from naturalstattrick.com, EvolvingHockey, hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Who Should The Toronto Maple Leafs Add On The Blue Line?

It’s no secret that the defence of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been scrutinized and critiqued countless times through the years. This has been a problem stretching longer than just the Shanahan era of Maple Leafs hockey.

As we saw this past April, the team’s blue-line (outside of Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin) has been very shaky to say the least. The Leafs were dealing with injuries (i.e. Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott and lack of experience (i.e. Justin Holl and Igor Ozhiganov). But, even when Gardiner and Dermott were healthy, it was evident that the Leafs needed an upgrade or two.

This off-season will likely be a busy one for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. One of his priorities is probably to address his defensive unit. So, if the Leafs want to bolster up on the backend, there are a few names to consider.

Adam Larsson

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Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson might be a player due for a reset. Everyone knows he had big shoes to fill after he was traded for Taylor Hall in the summer of 2016. He was tasked with being a big contributor on the Oilers blue-line. But, since the trade, he’s struggled significantly. He was not a terrible player on the team, but he is coming off a very poor year of 20 points in 82 games and was a -20.

Why trade him to the Leafs? Well for one, I see a trade where maybe Toronto looks to dump a contract or 2 in order to gain some financial flexibility. Say the Leafs wanted to trade Nikita Zaitsev, maybe getting Larsson back may not be so bad. After all he is a little cheaper as well as on a shorter term than Zaitsev. So, it could be more manageable.

Also, Connor McDavid needs a winger who can help. How about Connor Brown? I know he doesn’t seem like the flashiest name out there, but once upon a time, Brown was a huge contributor as the captain of  the Erie Otters, scoring 128 points in 68 games in the 2013-14 season. He also played with a 15-year-old McDavid as well. Could we see a reunion? Possibly.

The Leafs would likely take a player back in addition to Larsson. Perhaps Zack Kassian or Kyle Brodziak would fit the bill. Both have expiring deals and are fairly cheaper than Brown. One of these forwards would probably slot in on the Leafs fourth line and would add some physicality to the Leafs.

Jacob Trouba

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Many of you are scratching your heads at this, but just hear me out. People talk all the time about how the Leafs have to pay so many RFA’s this coming offseason but, how about Winnipeg?  With guys like Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor on expiring deals, many people forget Trouba is up too. Also worth noting, Trouba stated in an end of season media scrum that he was unsure about returning to Manitoba next fall.

Trouba might be someone who Toronto will inquire about. He’s big, he shoots right-handed, he plays top minutes and is coming off a career high in points (50 pts).

The issue is that he’d command a solid chunk of change (he earned $5.5 million this past year) and the Leafs would have to cough up a few assets.

A trade between these two teams would certainly be hard to pull off, but if Kyle Dubas gets creative enough and can work out issues going into the offseason, maybe this is something the Leafs should explore. 

Anton Stralman

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Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Anton Stralman might be a solid fit.

He was selected in the 7th round, 216th overall in the 2005 draft by the Leafs. Stralman struggled in his first few seasons and then was traded to the Calgary Flames for Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft (note: pick was traded away and Chicago selected Brandon Saad). Since Leaving Toronto, he eventually ended up playing for teams such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and most recently the first place Tampa Bay Lightning.

In Tampa, he had 130 points in 355 games with the Lightning, including a career high 39 point campaign in 2014-15. With Tampa’s recent shortcoming in the 2019 playoffs, some names may have to go. This means that Stralman might not have a locker room in Tampa come July 1st.

Enter Toronto. Sure, he played here in the early 2000s, but this time its a whole new landscape. Now granted, Stralman is 31 and coming off a 5 year/$22.5 million dollar deal with Tampa, but given his age and experience, he might be open to taking a slight pay raise on a short-term deal. He’d have the opportunity to play for the Cup in Toronto alongside Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly. 

Tyler Myers

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Tyler Myers like Jacob Trouba might not be in Winnipeg come July 1st.

Myers was a key piece going over to Winnipeg in the Evander Kane trade back in 2015. At the time, he had signed a big 7 year, $38.5 million dollar deal with the Buffalo Sabres. He was unable to maintain his high scoring defensive form and the Sabres gave him the opportunity for a fresh start in Winnipeg.

Since the deal, Myers turned into a big part of the Jets blu-eline and is recently coming off consecutive 30+ point seasons and was has a total of +67 in his last two seasons. However, once again the salary cap comes into play. The Jets may have to shed an asset in order to maintain star forwards like Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine.

Myers provides a good veteran presence, a right-handed shot and an ability to play both on the power play and penalty kill. He also plays a very big physical game. But, he could be quite pricy to land. The Toronto Maple Leafs should inquire about Myers, but the expectations for signing him should be very low.

Chris Tanev

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Tanev is everything that Leaf fans want. Big body, right-handed shot, can kill penalties and he’s hometown kid.

He isn’t an offensive threat, but Tanev is more known for being a strong two-way defenseman. Tanev has one more year at $4.45 million and has a modified no trade clause. There is a chance that Tanev has the Maple Leafs on his no-trade list. But, given the Leafs success in the past few seasons, he might be open to being dealt to Toronto.

The issue is that he won’t come at a cheap price. Leafs fans might be triggered at the suggestion of this, but perhaps the Leafs look to deal Kasperi Kapanen (pending RFA) for Tanev.  I know the intent is to keep him, but it might be a challenge. If he asks for too much money at his negotiations, the chances of retaining him will be close to none. Plus, if he does end up traded to Vancouver, he’d join his former teammate, Josh Leivo. Leivo was traded to Vancouver during the season and spent time alongside Elias Pettersson.

Talking To Carolina?

Honourable Mention: Justin Faulk, Dougie Hamilton or Brett Pesce

Note: All three are top four defensemen, even top 2 on the right team. However, given the increased trade value of the Hurricanes playoff run, it may be unlikely to trade for them.

Recap

In short, what the Toronto Maple Leafs do from now until October is beyond speculation. Things change daily and I am sure there are other players the leafs would love to acquire. But, who do you believe would be a good fit on the back-end in Toronto?

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Wind of Change

While Carolina Hurricanes fans in Carolina are singing ‘Rock you like a hurricane’, Toronto Maple Leafs fans will be singing another classic song by the Scorpions – ‘Wind of Change’. 

Another season in Leafs Nation has ended with another Game 7 first round loss at the hands of the Boston Bruins.  This season’s early exit stings more than last season and rightfully so.  Toronto had more talent, more depth and yet finished with the same result. 

It hasn’t taken Leafs fans very long to start playing the blame game as for who’s responsible for this season’s failure and the list is longer than you’d think.  Personally I think that if there is more than two or three people to blame, then you just weren’t good enough to begin with.

Sure, it was great to see guys like Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner and John Tavares have stellar seasons, but regular season achievements mean nothing come playoff time and in the playoffs you need your best players to step up when the games really matter. Auston Matthews had a great first round, but guys like Mitch Marner, John Tavares, Morgan Rielly and Freddie Andersen although good, were not good enough. They all had their great moments in certain games, but they were almost invisible in other games. Some will blame head coach Mike Babcock for not giving his stars more ice time or for not mixing up lines, but in the end you play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team.

What’s Next?

It’s almost a certainty that both Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey have played their last game as a Toronto Maple Leaf, but what other changes can Leafs Nation expect from Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas?  With the salary cap close to maxed out for next season, one would assume that trades will have to be made, but who gets traded?

Nazem Kadri

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Although Kadri provides good depth as the teams’ 3rd line center, it doesn’t make sense in the salary cap era to have a 3rd line center making more than $4 Million ($4.5 Million).

Connor Brown

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After the dreadful season that Brown had, it’s hard to fathom why he’s making $2.3 Million.  He barely scores goals and spends most of his time playing on the 3rd line and killing penalties. $2.3 Million is a bit much for a “plugger”.

Patrick Marleau

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With his lowest goal total (16) since his rookie season (13) in 1997/98, it seems that father time has finally caught up to Patrick Marleau. With one more season left on his contract worth $6.25 Million, that’s a large amount of cap space to be using on an aging player whose production is slipping.

Salary Cap

As of right now the Maple Leafs only have $4.49 Million available in Cap Space for the 2019/20 season.  It is believed that the NHL salary cap will go up from $79.5 Million – $83 Million for next season.  With that increase the Maple Leafs would have $7.54 Million in cap space which is still not enough space if they plan on resigning Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson.  If Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas were able to trade all three of Kadri, Brown and Marleau, that would free up another $13.05 Million and give the team a total of $21.04 Million in cap space.

Who Fills The Void?

Forwards

I believe that Kyle Dubas intends to keep Nic Petan and Trevor Moore, but I would also think it’s very likely that Toronto Marlies players such as Jeremy Bracco and Mason Marchment get a long look at training camp. Depending on cap space I also wouldn’t be surprised if Tyler Ennis is resigned.

Defense

With Gardiner, Hainsey, Martin Marincin all gone as Unrestricted Free Agents and Igor Ozhiganov likely returning home to play in Russia this summer, the Maple Leafs will have a few holes to fill on their blue-line.  The main four candidates from within the organization would be Justin Holl, Rasmus Sandin, Callie Rosen and Andreas Borgman. If a defenseman is brought in through Trade or signed as a UFA, then only three of the four players mentioned would have a chance at making the team in training camp.

Goaltending

Who will be the backup for Andersen next season? Will the Maple Leafs resign Michael Hutchinson or keep Garret Sparks? Garret Sparks did not look good this season and was not able win enough games. He looked very shaky or uncertain most of the time. I don’t think Babcock or the players had faith in him when he was in the net. Hutchinson didn’t have great numbers, but he has more experience at the NHL level and looked more confident in net. The other option is prospect Joseph Woll who was signed on March 24th to a three-year deal with an Annual Average Value of $800,000.

Summer Breeze 

This summer could be full of many changes for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the team will for sure look different next season. Whether those changes help them get past the first round in the playoffs, we’ll have to wait and see.

stats from hockey-reference.com

cap research from capfriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs Have Clinched, But Now It’s Time For The Real Test

So here we are Toronto Maple Leafs fans, the playoffs are on our radar once again and we will play our arch rivals: The Boston Bruins.

Just over a year ago we fought a hard series against the Bruins, but it all came undone in the 3rd period of game 7, stop me if you heard that before.

For some reason though, people are counting out the Leafs given their past experiences in a playoff scenario. It’s been over 10 years since we have seen the second round in Toronto, so what needs to go right against Boston?

Skill and Speed

The Leafs forward core is stacked on paper. Having players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares are the top three on the teams scoring amongst forwards. Morgan Rielly has had an incredible offensive season amongst defenders in the league with over 70 points this season, the highest since Tomas Kaberle‘s 67 points in 82 games back in 2005-06. The team has had so many different contributions as well with emerging pieces such as Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen stepping up, and having William Nylander back into the fold helps a lot. The team arguably has more depth in scoring than the Bruins with guys like Zach Hyman, Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri and even Tyler Ennis. The team sits 3rd Overall in goals for per game (3.5) and 8th on the power-play (22.1%) which definitely shows that this team can score their way out of trouble and provide stable offence.

Hands down this team is one of the fastest and most-skilled among the league. But, there is a perception that the Toronto Maple Leafs needed to add some grit and toughness (like Wayne Simmonds) at the deadline and that the Leafs need to match the Bruins’ physicality to get by them. Yet, you can make the argument that isn’t true. After all, the Tampa Bay Lightning got passed them last season in six games because of how fast and skilled the team was, so I’m sure the Leafs could do the same.

Here is what I presume the Leafs Forward core will be come playoff time:

Hyman-Tavares-Marner

Johnsson-Matthews-Nylander

Marleau- Kadri- Kapanen

Moore- Gauthier- Ennis

With these forward lines, the Leafs should be able to dominate the Bruins defensive core. 

Defence, Defence, Defence

This is one of the most crucial aspects to the Leafs becoming threats in the playoffs: their blue-line. Over the past couple of years, it’s been hands down one of the most criticized aspects of the team. Yes, the team is getting scoring from Morgan Rielly, but defencemen are supposed to help keep the puck from going in your net. With the addition of Jake Muzzin to the core, it could help take pressure off of some other guys as he has quite a bit of playoff experience from his time in Los Angeles. However, the team still has some gaping holes. It’s not perfect, no team is, but it goes without saying the teams defensive play has been an issue throughout the season, especially against Boston. With Travis Dermott now back and Jake Gardiner appearing to return before the playoffs, the team will be fully healthy again.

However, the team and Mike Babcock need to put together the lines that actually work and click together. Now if I was a betting man, the pairings would look something like this come game 1.

Rielly- Hainsey

Gardiner- Zaitsev

Muzzin- Dermott

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why is Muzzin playing bottom 6 minutes with Dermott?” Well, these were the pairings Babcock was using up until Gardiner went down with an injury. I could see why it was done given that Dermott is one of the players expected to take a big leap with the team next season, and having a guy like Muzzin on his line helps bring mentorship to the young up and coming Leaf. Obviously fans have come to not like the Rielly-Hainsey pairing, given how much Hainsey is taxed. I agree that a 38-year-old playing over 20 mins a night is not great, but he has grown on me a little over the past few games.

If I was in charge; here is what I would do for the playoffs defence lineups:

Gardiner- Rielly

Muzzin- Zaitsev

Hainsey- Dermott

Now, why these pairings? Well for one you take Hainsey off the top pairing, taking less minutes to preserve his body. You can still have him kill penalties, but also help provide more mentorship to Dermott, who has played with Hainsey briefly after acquiring Jake Muzzin. 

I do understand why Gardiner and Zaitsev is an odd pairing, I question it myself in all honesty, but it’s what the team would likely do. I would rather put Muzzin with Zaitsev, so that Muzzin could take some of the pressure off of that pairing and provide more safety on the ice.

In terms of the top pairingm, Rielly and Gardiner have played together before, even under Babcock, and the two have generated some success together. Yes they are both left-handed shots, but Rielly could play the right side. Also, the pair’s skating abilities could help move the puck into more offensive scenarios during play.

Frederik Andersen

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Now, it’s no surprise that Frederik Andersen is going to start in the playoffs for Toronto. Rightfully so, as he is the reason this team has made it to the playoffs in his 3 seasons wearing the blue and white. So what’s the issue here? Well, Freddie hasn’t always been steady. This past month, we saw that he was most likely very tired and beat up due to the gruelling schedule. The other night on Long Island, we saw what our goaltender is with a very tight 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. Despite his great numbers during the regular season, Andersen has struggled in the playoffs. With a .896 save percentage last year, Andersen has something to prove this year. We know he can steal games, heck he practically helped force a game 7 last season, but the biggest worry for me is consistency. I believe there’s still a lot more potential to Andersen’s game that will be shown in the playoffs. So, we just need to wait and see.

The Fans

Yes, I’m talking to you Leafs Nation. Us as fans need to step up and be optimistic of our team. Don’t let the recent slump phase you. Teams struggle all the time. Sure the media has to downplay the Leafs, it’s their job. Every team has its faults, but remember the best team is not guaranteed to win the whole thing. Sure, we have our faults, we have our inconsistencies and our doubts, but are we seriously going to throw in the towel before the playoffs even start? What kind of fanbase does that? You ever hear Ric Flair saying “To be the man, you got to beat the man.” That applies here, to be the best, you got to beat the best. Heck did Boston even have a good last few games? No. Prior to their win against Columbus, they lost their last 2 being outscored 10-4 against non playoff teams.

Also, we (Leaf Fans) are quickly jumping to the negatives. The what ifs. The collapses. The disappointments. What about all the glorious moments? The playoff runs of the past where the team showed what winning was all about. The infamous 1945 comeback, which saw the team go from 3-0 in the series, to storming back and winning 4 straight to win their 4th Stanley Cup. Or better yet, how about 1967? The year everyone jokes about. The oldest team to ever win the Stanley Cup, the group being known as the “Over the Hill” team. Little do some know, the team lost 10 games in a row that season, dealt with countless injuries, the absence of their coach Punch Imlach and having to go through the two best teams in the league in Chicago and Montreal. Yeah, the league was small back then, but it goes to show you that nothing is impossible. The Washington Capitals won the Stanley cup last year against all odds, so who is to say the Leafs can’t defy them too? The teams in 1945 and 1967 proved a lot of people wrong back then, and I’m sure that this team could too.

Leafs Nation, we stand witness for a reason. I expect Scotiabank Arena and Maple Leafs Square to be loud and proud of this blue and white team. As Steve Dangle always asks us.

Are. You. In?

stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com and foxsports.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Looking At Jake Muzzin’s Debut

Last night, defenceman Jake Muzzin made his Toronto Maple Leafs debut.

They acquired Muzzin in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings. Muzzin is 29 years old (he’ll be 30 on February 21st) and has the big body (6’3″ 213 Lbs) that the Maple Leafs have been missing on their back end.

Muzzin grew up in Woodstock, Ontario and was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Per John Chidley-Hill’s article, as a child, Muzzin idolized Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Felix Potvin

Muzzin’s Hockey Career To This Point

Muzzin played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 5th round of the 2007 NHL draft.  He never ended up being signed by Pittsburgh, so he returned to the OHL as an over-aged player.  In 2010, he signed as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Kings. He would go on to help the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2014 with a 12 point performance (6 Goals and 6 Assists) in their playoff run. 

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The Woodstock native also played in the 2015 IIHF Would Championship and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, winning Gold in both tournaments. During the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, he played under coach Mike Babcock, who just so happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs current bench boss.

The Trade

The trade to Toronto is the first time that Muzzin has been traded in his hockey career and it allows him to play for the team he cheered for growing up.  In order to make the trade happen, the Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas had to give up his 2019 1st round pick, Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi.  The draft pick will be a late round pick somewhere between 20th – 31st depending on how well Toronto does in the Playoffs. Grundstrom is projected to be a top 9 winger and it’s still too early to predict how good of a defenseman Durzi will turn out to be. The best part about this trade was that Kyle Dubas didn’t have to give up a roster player or any of our top prospects.

Recapping Muzzin’s First Game As A Leaf

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Muzzin played his first game as a Toronto Maple Leaf on Friday. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible debut. He finished the game with 18:08 minutes of ice time. He played most of the game on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly. Muzzin had an even +/- rating and had 2 blocked shots.  Just like most players who get traded to a new team during a season, it’ll take the defenceman a few games to become comfortable with his new team.

All-in-all, Leafs fans should not expect a ton of points from Jake Muzzin, but they should expect hits and blocked shots. Plus, he brings a lot of playoff experience and will most likely be looked upon for inspiration come playoff time.

stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler