Jake Muzzin was acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings for forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Muzzin can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season. The 29-year-old defenseman signed a five-year contract extension with the Kings on Oct. 15, 2014.
Muzzin had 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 50 games with the Kings this season. He has 213 points (51 goals, 162 assists) in 496 regular-season NHL games and 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 50 Stanley Cup Playoffs games, including winning the Cup in 2014.
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"I was a little shocked to get the phone call," Muzzin said. "You hear rumblings and rumors and stuff like that, but you just continue on with your ways until it actually happens and then everything sinks in. I'm very excited to join Toronto. Just thinking about playing them, how we got beat, I was like, '[Darn],' and now to be a part of their team, I'm real excited for the opportunity.
"I've played a little bit of the right [side] and more so of my career on the left. I'd be fine either way, I think. There's good enough D back there where we can figure something out. ... I'm excited to come and put on a Leafs jersey and play, and we'll let everything else worry about itself."
Toronto (30-17-2) is second in the Atlantic Division, 14 points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL Trade Deadline is four weeks away (3 p.m. ET on Feb. 25), but Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wasn't interested in waiting.
Video: How Muzzin trade helps Maple Leafs moving forward
"I think the longer you can have the player for the better," Dubas said. "Coming back from the (All-Star and mandatory five-day) break, I think it makes it a little bit easier than if we were immersed into a full schedule, and it gives Jake a couple days with his family to get organized. Anytime we can allow a player to adapt and give them a little bit more time to adapt versus right at the deadline, when you only have six weeks left, having two plus months for Jake to settle in and help our team was important for us."
Muzzin was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round (No. 141) of the 2007 NHL Draft. He signed with Los Angeles as a free agent Jan. 4, 2010.
"He's proven himself over a good career now to be able to move the puck, to excel at playing against high quality competition," Dubas said. "He's able to contribute offensively, but defensively, I thought it was a great fit for us and knowing his character and what he's about, I thought it would be a great fit for our locker room as well."
The Kings (20-26-4) are in last place in the Western Conference, eight points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second Western wild card into the playoffs.
"We're at the bottom of the League. We made this deal for the future of the organization," Los Angeles GM Rob Blake said.
Grundstrom was selected by the Maple Leafs in the second round (No. 57) of the 2016 NHL Draft. The 21-year-old had 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 42 games this season for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. He will be assigned to Ontario of the AHL.
Toronto selected Durzi in the second round (No. 52) of the 2018 NHL Draft but never signed him. The 20-year-old has 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 24 games for Guelph and Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League this season.
It was not easy for the Kings to trade Muzzin, Blake said.
"Terrific player, terrific person. Took a huge step in leadership over the last few years here," Blake said. "... A very difficult day here for us. To move players that have brought so much to this organization and bringing the Stanley Cup to the organization, very difficult, but we wish Jake well. He was tremendous for his time here as an LA King."
NHL.com correspondents Dave McCarthy and Dan Greenspan contributed to this report