The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenceman Jake Muzzin on LTIR on Wednesday, and the move should open up many trade avenues for the team to explore.
Concussions are a serious concern for any hockey player, and for the Toronto Maple Leafs they are dealing with the second occurrence of such an injury with defenceman Jake Muzzin, who will spend time on LTIR to ensure a full recovery.
The move is a sensible one, with Muzzin having only recently returned from a concussion suffered last month, and will safeguard the veteran blueliner as he looks to get back to full health before even considering stepping back out on the ice this season.
Muzzin is a physical player and a leader on the team and it would not be surprising to see him attempt to return at some point before the end of the regular season, but the risk of re-injury and the need to make sure he recovers in the right way is an absolute must for both the team and the player.
If Muzzin misses the remainder of the regular season, it would open up a serious opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make additions that can bolster the roster ahead of the playoffs, with the need to progress beyond the first round as strong as it ever has been.
It’s clear the Leafs are looking at improving, both on the blue line as well as on offence, and this move could facilitate a set of deals that allow general manager Kyle Dubas to get guys that can have a big impact to end the season and hit the ground running for the post-season.
The Leafs moved players up and down before placing Muzzin on LTIR, and have effectively freed up the full value of the defenceman’s $5.625 million cap hit – which is a sizeable chunk of money that could go towards acquiring a high-impact forward as well as adding further depth and security on defence.
Justin Holl and Travis Dermott are the focal point on trade rumours, with their own cap hits able to give the Leafs even more flexibility in the trade market, with players such as J.T. Miller one of the top names floated as a possibility for Toronto to consider.
Losing Muzzin is a big blow, with his qualities both on and off the ice having a significant impact on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the ability to add even more quality to a team set to break the franchise record for single season points is one that can’t be passed up.
Having a fully healthy Muzzin return to the team for Game One of the first round of the playoffs would be a massive boost, with no cap implications once the post-season begins meaning all of the additions the team can currently make would be available to play with the big-bodied Woodstock, Ontario native.
While memories of the Nick Foligno trade from last season may still give fans nightmares, it has shown that Dubas is willing to be aggressive at the trade deadline and is determined to do something to get this team over the edge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU67ENR5J3wWith Muzzin taking a sensible amount of time to recover from his second concussion of the season, the opportunity for Dubas to be aggressive ahead of the post-season once again presents itself.