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Muzzin signs four-year contract with Maple Leafs

Defenseman gets $5.6 million per season, could have become free agent

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Jake Muzzin signed a four-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. It has an average annual value of $5.625 million.

Muzzin, a defenseman who could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 52 games this season. He was out from Dec. 28-Jan. 27 with a broken foot.

"I wanted to be here. That's pretty much it," Muzzin said. "I like the team, I like the city, the organization. Me and my wife really enjoyed it so we wanted to be here."

Muzzin was acquired by Toronto in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 28, 2019, for forward Carl Grundstrom, defenseman prospect Sean Durzi, and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft (Tobias Bjornfot).

"Yes, we wanted to keep him around," Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said. "The term was a byproduct of where he's at just turning 31 years old. ... Jake's importance, especially as things haven't gone well, is immense on the ice and off. It was very apparent when he was out of the lineup that we missed him deeply. That was the time where we started to come out of the stretch where we had been playing well. He adds a lot for us."

Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round (No. 141) of the 2007 NHL Draft, Muzzin has 251 points (61 goals, 190 assists) in 578 regular-season games with Los Angeles and Toronto. He has 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 57 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including winning the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014.

Toronto (32-23-8), which visits the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS, SUN, SNO, NHL.TV), has four wins in its past 11 games (4-6-1) They are two points ahead of the Florida Panthers for third place in the Atlantic Division.

"The leadership core of the team needs to take a jump," Muzzin said. "Consistently. You can't have it one night and not the next. That's everyone. And that's bringing along the younger core as well. We have to give them no option but to come with us. It's on the older guys and the core group to push forward, and it's on the younger guys to keep pushing as well."

The Maple Leafs did not trade defenseman Tyson Barrie, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.

"There was nothing on the front burner," Dubas said. "The way things had gone, we started to get some interest in him and I thought it was good practice to listen and envision what the return would be. He's played very well, especially since the coaching change (from Mike Babcock to Sheldon Keefe on Nov. 20), we were totally fine with him running it out and continuing to grow as part of our group."

Dubas did not say where contract talks stand with Barrie.
 
"I don't have the answer right now other than to say we'll use the remaining time we have together to see if there was a fit," Dubas said. "With our [NHL salary cap situation], it's never so simple, I wish it were but it's not."

NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger and independent correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report

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