Jake Muzzin was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday evening, and in the wake of the trade there’s been a lot of talk about the team hitting a home run in picking up a solid top-four blue-liner who is excelling even as the Los Angeles Kings disappoint.
But still, playing on the West Coast means many Leafs fans probably don’t know Muzzin the player inside and out. Over the past 12-plus hours, various guests from Los Angeles have appeared on Sportsnet 590 The FAN to talk about what the Kings gave up, and what the Maple Leafs are getting, in Muzzin.
Here is some of what the people who know Muzzin best are saying about him:
ALEX FAUST, L.A. KINGS PLAY-BY-PLAY FOR FOX SPORTS
“He’s been the most consistent defenceman from the L.A. Kings this year, that much has been probably apparent from Day 1 this season. In a year where the Kings are struggling, everybody knows it, Jake’s probably been in stretches their best player overall this year. Certainly the plus-minus reflects that from him.
“I think where his game has really sharpened, especially in the last month or so, is the physical side of his game. There have been a couple of thundering hip checks, Rob Blake-esque checks for an L.A. Kings legend in the last couple of weeks that have made his personal highlight reel.”
DARYL EVANS, L.A. KINGS RADIO COLOUR COMMENTATOR
“You go back to the early part of the year, there was a point maybe five or seven games into the season his game took off and he’s been very consistent since then. On a team that has had a lot of difficulty this year, he’s been a really good, consistent player at both ends of the rink. Maybe not put up the offensive numbers, but the team as a whole has struggled.
“He’s played a complete game, he’s matured nicely, he’s become a leader on this team and I think will be a great addition for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“There is a little bit more upside to his offensive game. Because of the way the Maple Leafs play, I think you’ll see his numbers trend in that direction.
“The defensive part of the game gets overlooked a little bit. He can be a real difficult player to play against. He’s got an edge to his game, he can come up with the big hit, he’s got mobility back there. I wouldn’t look at him as a big, slow type of guy. I think he’s got good mobility for a man who can turn both ways.
“He’s got versatility. He can play both sides. He can also play in all situations. Power play, penalty kill, you can use him as a shutdown guy against the other team’s top players.
“You get a big body that can compete in the corners and win those one-on-one battles. He makes good selection as to clearing pucks out. He’s not a guy who panics. I think he understands the league very well. It’s going to be a transition definitely playing in the East, you’re not as familiar with as many of the players, but I think he’s got the hockey IQ to be able to make those adjustments.
“He’s a nasty player to play against. He’ll play you heavy, he’ll play you hard, but he’ll play you clean. He doesn’t take a lot of penalties. He’s got the team in the back of his mind in everything he does. He’s not a selfish player.
“When he’s on the penalty kill you can count on him to get pucks out on the first attempt and those battles around the net, he’s going to win a lot of those battles.”
JIM FOX, L.A. KINGS ANALYST FOR FOX SPORTS WEST
“I think it’s a great acquisition … I think the Toronto fans are in for a pleasant surprise. I would just guess they don’t know a lot about Jake Muzzin. That they don’t know how well-rounded he is. How good of a skater he is. How strong he is. He’s a great defender.
“He moves the puck, he can join the play. He’s a true No. 2. He’s behind Drew Doughty so he doesn’t get a lot of the news, but at the same time he’s a solid No. 2.
“He’s a great skater. He’s so powerful the way he can move around the ice. And for a relatively big guy he’s mobile and agile. I would just make the assumption the move to the other side is not going to be a big issue for him.
“How would he play with Rielly? Well I don’t know if there’s many better skaters in the game than (Rielly) so I think Jake will provide a little bit more of that power, a little bit more of that aggressiveness. When he finishes a check you feel it. It is hard. He closes the gap so well the timing is there, but when it gets to the point of contact he finishes hard. So I think that’s what it’s going to be – he’s going to be that physical guy and then you have the dancer on the other side.”