Jake Muzzin hasn’t been the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season
There was one thing the Leafs could count on from Jake Muzzin since his arrival from the Los Angeles Kings. He was going to be a physical presence capable of playing tough minutes in a shutdown role.
Unfortunately, in the second year of his four-year, $22.5 million deal, Muzzin has faced his challenges with his play on the ice and injury problems as well. It’s clear that when he isn’t at his best or out of the lineup, the Leafs suffer especially against top tier opponents.
Look no further than when the loss to the New York Rangers, which showed why the Leafs should make the right side of the defence a priority ahead of the trade deadline. Sheldon Keefe has been tinkering with the defensive pairings but still remains committed to getting Muzzin and Justin Holl back on track.
Considering the investment the Leafs have in Muzzin, they need to see if they can get him some help and see if that gets him back to form. If you need any more reason to see that the Muzzin-Holl pairing could be a problem come playoff time, the number speak for themselves as Jon Steitzer of the Leafs Nation writes.
If Muzzin can’t find a way to improve, the Leafs might have to aim higher and find a player who can provide a boost to the second pairing. We saw that happen when T.J. Brodie was paired with Muzzin at times because of the struggles he’s had.