LA Kings about to see return on Jake Muzzin trade

LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The players acquired in the Jake Muzzin trade are about to get a long look with the LA Kings during the 2021 season.

The Jake Muzzin trade in early 2019 signaled the LA Kings were committed to the rebuild. Despite having 21 points when he was traded, the 29-year-old’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season. A long-time pairing partner for Drew Doughty, Muzzin was a vital piece of the team’s blue line during the 2014 Stanley Cup run.

About a month after being traded, Muzzin signed a four-year contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. As part of the return, the LA Kings received forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Los Angeles used that pick to select Tobias Bjornfot to bolster the next great Kings’ team’s blue line.

While Muzzin is on a Leafs team in a win-now mode, the Kings are about to get a glimpse on their return from Toronto. As a restricted free agent, LA re-signed Grundstrom to a two-year deal this offseason. He scored six points (1 G, 5 A) in six games at the end of the 2018-2019 campaign with the Kings. But he followed that with a very disappointing four points (0 G, 4 A) in 13 games this past season.

The 22-year-old had a strong season in the AHL for the Ontario Reign, lighting the lamp 12 times to go along with 16 assists. And with a couple of rosters spots opening up during the offseason, he’s expected to get every chance to stick with the Los Angeles Kings.

Sean Durzi has two years remaining on his entry-level contract. The former second-round pick in 2018 could have a difficult time seeing the NHL this season with a crowded right side on defense. In Ontario, Durzi recorded two goals with 12 assists in 39 games last season. He’s likely to begin the 2021 season there again.

Unless an injury occurs, Durzi probably won’t see the NHL this season. But the Kings need to determine what they have in the Toronto native. Maybe there’s a scenario where Kurtis MacDermid is traded as part of a package, and Durzi is promoted to serve as the team’s seventh defenseman. Either way, unless he dazzles, his long-term future in LA does not look promising.

And finally, Tobias Bjornfot. The 19-year-old began the 2019-2020 season on the top pairing with Doughty on Opening Night. He looked overmatched, and after three games, was sent down to Ontario. He tallied six goals with 13 assists in 44 games in the AHL.

The upcoming season will be critical for Bjornfot, who is expected to get a much longer look along on the left side of the blue line. With the arrival of Olli Maatta during the offseason, Bjornfot is best-suited on the second pairing with Matt Roy.

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Muzzin was a critical player for the LA Kings to say goodbye. The Kings could have offered the same four-year contract extension, but they weren’t in a position where it financially made sense for both parties. A difficult decision was made to acquire players and draft capital for the future. Now it’s time to see what the Kings received in the trade.