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9 Possible Jake Muzzin Replacements For Maple Leafs [Report]

If the Toronto Maple Leafs replace Jake Muzzin, they have two internal options about seven likely candidates in the trade market.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will need to make a decision when it comes to their blue line. Speculation is that the team will try internally to fill the hole left by Jake Muzzin’s long-term injury, but there are also reports surfacing that GM Kyle Dubas might look to the trade market to seek a replacement in the long term, especially if internal solutions don’t pan out as well as one might hope.

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff writes, “GM Kyle Dubas said Monday that in the short-term, the Leafs will provide no shortage of opportunity for young defensemen Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to step up and seize the moment.” He added, “In the long-term, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Leafs will use all of Muzzin’s $5.625 million LTIR space to boost a back end that many viewed as already in need of reinforcement when Muzzin was healthy.”

Jake Muzzin Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs

As for possible options outside of Sandin and Liljegren (the first two options Dubas will look at), Seravalli lists six more potential targets for the Maple Leafs. Among them, Seravalli mentioned John Klingberg (Anaheim), Vladislav Gavrikov (Columbus), Matt Roy (Kings), Carson Soucy (Kraken), and Nick Jensen OR Dmitry Orlov (Capitals). Seravalli also noted to keep an eye on Matt Dumba out of Minnesota.

A Little About Other Options For the Leafs

When it comes to Klingberg, the Ducks have been awful this season and sit second-last in the league for points. Klingberg is likely to be a trade deadline sell — frankly, he was probably always going to be that considering he signed for one season this past summer. He was likely signed to be a flippable asset. If the Ducks retain 50% of his salary ($7 million), this is workable for the Leafs. He’s an offensive d-man who can run a power play and he’s a legit threat to add production from the back end.

As for Gavrikov, he is a defensive defenseman with size and reach. He can shut down plays, penalty kill, and block shots. He’s a $2.8 million cap hit which is more than affordable for the Leafs, especially if they can convince the Blue Jackets to retain any salary in the deal. The Blue Jackets have tried to sign him to an extension, but thus far, have had no luck.

Roy might be less likely because he still has some term on his contract and the Kings are playing quite well to start the season. The reason he might be available is that the Kings also have a surplus of blueliners and the capability to move one without depleting their roster. Seravalli notes that ice time might be an issue as he writes, “After averaging 20:18 over the last two seasons, he has only cracked 20 minutes twice this season, averaging 17:50.”

Whether Soucy is available out of Seattle or not isn’t clear. Few expected the Kraken to be as competitive as they’ve been this season and moving a key piece of the blue line might not be the right play until they know where they stand as far as the playoffs are concerned. If he does move, he’s a popular option for a lot of teams because he has size and can play both sides.

What happens in Washington will depend largely on how well the team does without key pieces of their lineup available to them. If they struggle and it appears they’ll miss the playoffs, they’ll start moving rentals and pending UFAs. Orlov and Jensen might be stylistic fits for Toronto, as both handle forechecking pressure well.

Next: Five Maple Leafs Takeaways in 5-2 Win Over the Penguins

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