Toronto Maple Leafs: Potential Jake Muzzin deal crucial going forward

Lawson Crouse #67 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Lawson Crouse #67 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

As the Toronto Maple Leafs get closer to completing a rumoured extension for Jake Muzzin, this is a crucial development considering what it means going forward.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs going into a crucial stretch for their push to clinching a playoff spot, contract talk still dominates the headlines.

Over the course of the season, Jake Muzzin‘s contract status has been discussed off and on but with the trade deadline approaching it appears that there has been some traction towards a deal. TSN’s Darren Dreger said an extension is getting close to being a done deal but it will take time before it gets announced.

When it comes to a number on a deal, Pierre LeBrun added that a deal would likely cost the Leafs around $5.5 million AAV on a four-year deal. The questions that have to be asked here is whether that makes sense for the Leafs and what would it mean going forward?

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Obviously, one fact that people will look at in a deal for Muzzin is his age, he is going to be 31 on Feb. 21 so a four-year deal would end when he turns 35. There has been a lack of desire for teams to offer term to a player in his 30s especially defencemen.

It’s no secret how important Muzzin has been since the Leafs acquired him last season and that will probably continue to be the case over the next few seasons. The important thing here is to avoid giving him too much term but enough that he doesn’t even consider going to free agency.

The Leafs don’t have a defenceman that can replace what Muzzin brings and the assets Kyle Dubas paid to acquire the Woodstock, Ont., native wasn’t pocket change either. This seems like the best way to ensure the team is getting enough bang for its buck and also affords their younger defencemen like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren more time to develop at their own pace.

If the Leafs can get Muzzin at the $5.5 million cap hit on a four-year deal it would be a $1.5 million increase per season from the $4 million he is currently making. Upfront the team doesn’t have a lot to commit to if they want to look at bringing back veterans like Jason Spezza and Kyle Clifford.

Those deals won’t cost the Leafs a lot and it takes some pressure off the fact that the team doesn’t have a lot of defencemen signed past this season. Not only does Muzzin provide that steady veteran presence on the blue line but knowing what his salary is going to be will provide some certainty if the team makes a deal at the trade deadline.

According to CapFriendly, the Leafs have $10.1 million in projected cap space this off-season and will be rid of their LTIR contracts in Nathan Horton and David Clarkson. Unfortunately, they will still have another two seasons with Phil Kessel‘s $1.2 million in retained salary.

The team won’t have to think about their goaltending situation with Jack Campbell and Frederik Andersen under contract and will have some potential contracts that could be moved in the off-season.

It’s been made known that Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen and Alexander Kerfoot are players that have been talked about in potential trades and that could be something the team will have to consider in order to gain cap flexibility and depending on the deal, some assets as well.

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What do you think about a potential Muzzin deal? Is it worth it for the Leafs to give him a lot of term? Let us know in the comments below.