Jake Muzzin stands to benefit the most from the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring defenseman Mark Giordano from the Seattle Kraken.
Namely, it gives him and the Toronto Maple Leafs a little more runway to allow for a full recovery from the effects of two concussions within a relatively short space of time.
Equally though, it means he can be sheltered a little in his return to the ice. This certainly won’t go amiss given when Jake Muzzin does eventually return and given the Leafs have said they’re not about to hold him back; he’ll likely need a couple of games to get back up to speed.
Given that return may very well occur as late as the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs; being able to shelter his minutes a little may prove invaluable.
Why does Jake Muzzin benefit so much from the Toronto Maple Leafs new acquisition?
First and foremost, it means the defensive pairings can be juggled. Justin Holl doesn’t necessarily need to be playing and certainly isn’t as necessary in the top-four now.
With Morgan Rielly finding himself lining up with Ilya Lyubushkin and T.J. Brodie every chance of being reunited with his former Calgary Flames partner, Muzzin can settle into a third pairing role if need be.
A third pairing of Jake Muzzin and Rasmus Sandin (although now he’s possibly injured) doesn’t sound half bad, to be fair. That move would allow the Leafs to have both Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl held in reserve, if of course, neither is traded between now and the deadline.
Finding himself on the third pairing doesn’t need to be a negative for Jake Muzzin either. It speaks to some solid left-sided defensive depth.
Additionally, it allows Muzzin’s minutes to be managed to have him at his most effective for his role as one of the team’s stronger shutdown guys when it comes to killing penalties.
Mark Giordano obviously arrives with the team as a reasonably similar style of player to Jake Muzzin, given his handedness and his willingness to play slightly more physically. In fact, we thought he was always a strong pick to add to the Leafs line-up.
The biggest beneficiaries here are obviously the Toronto Maple Leafs as a whole, as they now have this option to play Jake Muzzin, when he returns, on any of their three pairings.
Finally, the Leafs might actually have a true top four group in terms of name value and past accomplishments, at the very least.
Of course, four or five years ago, a group containing Giordano, Rielly, Muzzin and Brodie might’ve been the envy of the league.
Even now, it’s still nothing to sniff at. They may all be a little older, but that doesn’t mean they should instantly be written off.
Jake Muzzin, on his return, should be able to gradually find his feet now instead of scrambling frantically to get up to pace immediately on his first shift.
Perhaps most intriguing will be how Sheldon Keefe ends up running his pairings. Perhaps, Muzzin isn’t the third pairing guy. Maybe Lyubushkin falls back.
These unanswered questions though aren’t bad ones to need answered for Toronto Maple Leafs fans.