Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, left, confers with defenseman Morgan Rielly before a faceoff during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Kings Assistant General Manager Mike Futa discusses the trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs and what the Leafs are getting in Jake Muzzin, Bobby Mac speculates on the Auston Matthews contract negotiations, and more reaction to the Muzzin trade in today’s links.

Leafs Links

Futa: Muzzin is a good hockey player and a heart & soul kid (TSN1050)
Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings Mike Futa joined Overdrive to discuss the trade with the Leafs and what Toronto is getting in Jake Muzzin.

On Rob Blake’s comments that Jake Muzzin has been the most consistent King this season:

He has been that good. Blakie nailed it. In fairness, it is kind of like a double-edged sword for a player because when a player isn’t playing hard, it’s hard to get value when you’re trying to rebuild. I think Jake’s play dictated exactly what his value was in the market. Rob set a price and Jake has been outstanding. I think it actually worked the other way for him. The calibre of kid is just going to be a huge factor, too, because he is just a real special person and he works hard. His teammates absolutely love him. I don’t think he is somebody who is going to… I mean, the Toronto media is going to be a little bit of a different thing for him because he’s a private guy, but his teammates absolutely love him.

As a player, he has been a power play guy. If you watch his highlights, he is very sneaky with his body contact. Down the left wall there, he’s caused some pretty good damage to some guys recently with playing physical. He is an excellent penalty killer, and he is a heart-and-soul kid. In fairness, I think playing with Drew for those years, really, they were such an exceptional pair. It was almost to a point as a coaching staff where they were so confident with Muzz that he could run his own pairing and they broke the two up. We had success with it.

Jake is a good hockey player who is a better person. Being a hometown kid, he was very emotional last night. I know Blakie called him. Any time you have won with a kid and he’s become part of your family, it’s a really tough thing. I made that call and we were very emotional as a group. And then, of course, I asked him for free tickets like any good Leafs fan does. But he is a great, great guy who is going to really fit in well.

It’s such a good hockey team that they’ve assembled there. He doesn’t have to go in and be everything. He’s just got to be Jake Muzzin and play within himself and he’ll be just fine.

On the trade and what the Leafs have built versus the stage the Kings are at in their rebuild:

The Leafs identified what they needed and we identified what we needed. Mike Babcock chose Jake as one of the top seven defensemen on Team Canada, right? And he didn’t play. It was actually hard when Jake came back because it doesn’t matter. Your pride… You’re the best player in the world. You have to convince somebody that, “Hey, you were the eighth or seventh best defenseman in the world. It wasn’t like you were a healthy scratch in a beer league or something. Those are some pretty darn good guys.” I think Jake is really going to benefit now in Toronto with that media limelight by understanding what that was all about and being around those calibre of players and being around Mike.

Obviously, Kyle was familiar with him. They’ve done a job. My job isn’t to identify what the Leafs need. We did an exceptional job with our scouting staff talking about moving forward and how excited we are about the players we have coming in. I think that is why these deals take so long. There are players that the Leafs are more comfortable giving up and players we’re more comfortable acquiring. I’m sure there were other teams involved at some point, but it became evident it was going to be Toronto that was going to be the fit.

Yesterday, Rob did an incredible job of just pulling it all together and getting what we feel makes the Kings better moving forward. Durzi and Grundstrom are hopefully going to be big parts of our future. Obviously, where the Leafs are at, the first-round pick is not going to be a top, top pick and we’re not expecting it to be, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got our ducks in a row. Right now, we’ve got two first-round picks and Rob has set the tone with where we are going with the organization. I don’t think things like this have to take — if you do your job with your development and your scouting — forever.

You look at that team that everyone is trumpeting in Toronto — and rightfully so — Mark Hunter and Lou Lamoriello… Shanny started the ball rolling hiring him and Hunter to put that stuff together along with Kyle and you saw the culture change, but it was through the draft. Matthews and Marner and these guys — that core group, and Nylander — they were drafted players and now they are drafted as Toronto Maple Leafs and I think we need a little bit of that influx with some of our younger guys being drafted. That is where you get your top-six skill from, is through the draft, and doing it the right way and developing them. We’ve got to get back to that. We’ve got some good young players coming up and we feel we’ve added some nice new pieces in the deal with the Leafs.

Bob McKenzie chats Jake Muzzin, Auston Matthews & Artemi Panarin (TSN1050)
Bobby Mac joined Overdrive on Tuesday evening to discuss the Muzzin acquisition and the Matthews contract negotiations.

On the Leafs acquiring the piece they needed on defense:

He did it without giving up the roster player, which was important. Let’s say you want Brett Pesce from Carolina; he’s got a more an attractive contract. Muzzin is only a year away from UFA, which helps insulate if Gardiner does go out the door in the offseason for at least a year anyway. But if you went out and got a right-shot D like Pesce — who has multiple years left on his deal at a cap-friendly number — it would’ve cost you Johnsson or Kapanen for sure and maybe more.

On the latest on the Matthews negotiations:

All Kyle Dubas has said is, “healthy dialogue.” The agents for Auston Matthews have probably said less than that. Nobody wants to derail something with a mistimed comment here or there, so we are left to read between the lines a little bit and dig here and there. I get the very strong feeling that real progress is being made and that there is a legitimate chance — albeit not a guarantee — that this might get done before the trade deadline.

Now, Dubas in that interview when the Leafs had the off-day and he talked, said that would be the optimal situation, to be able to get a deal done ahead of the deadline and that would allow you have a better handle on what the financial commitments are to some degree. There is still Marner to do, but that would be a big one out of the way. I think that is what everybody wants to try to do, but it is an important deal.

I think there is a chance it could get done sooner rather than later is I think they’ve gotten off the… It is much, much, much less likely now that it will be a seven- or eight-year deal. I think the problem with an eight-year deal, even though I think Matthews initially wanted an eight-year deal, is that the number would just be so large. All of these agents with players like this work with percentage of cap, and if you take Connor McDavid’s percentage of cap at the time he signed versus what the cap is going to be this year, you are looking at probably over $13 million a year for Auston Matthews. That starts to make the cookie jar a little too full for everyone else. Now, I think it is much more likely to be a five-year deal or a six-year deal and the numbers would come down appropriately.

Tavares is making $11.5 million. I don’t think the Leafs have a John Tavares salary cap within, but if possible, you want guys in the universe of that. So maybe $11.5 million give or take $500,000 one way or the other, depending on term or numbers, is what you could speculate on. But there is still work to be done. It is not done, but the structure and signing bonus and how they are going to crack the exact AAV remains to be seen.

The biggest thing is that when they got John Tavares, it changed the dynamic. If Tavares wasn’t here, in my own opinion, I bet Matthews would be getting an eight-year deal for about $13-13.5 million, but because Tavares is here and he has taken that $11.5 million, and also because he is here at the age that he is here, plus the way the Leafs have played this year, the moment is not just now but you look at this window as, “Let’s maximize the window in this next five-year period.” If it is a five-year contract for Matthews or a six-year deal, you are doing that.

The one thing you can’t do, in my mind, is give Marner and Matthews the exact same term because you don’t want this situation happening again. You want to stagger it one way or the other. But that’s just me talking. I am no Kyle Dubas.

Jake Muzzin: The Player, The Trade Value, and The Fit (MLHS)
Anthony Petrielli provides a thorough breakdown on the new Leaf and his fit in the lineup.

Dubas on Muzzin: “The key is his ability to play against top players” (MLHS)
Kyle Dubas makes it clear that the extra year of term was key in order to fork over the futures the Leafs gave up to add a significant piece to the blue line.

Shoring up the Defence (Bill Comeau)
A good perspective from Bill on how Muzzin stacks up statistically and the needs he fills on the Leafs defense core.

It’s Gonna Be Hard to Move On from Jake Muzzin (Jewels from the Crown)
A Kings fan perspective on the loss of Jake Muzzin: “Muzzin seized the title of #2 defenseman during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and never relinquished it.”

A deep-dive look at how Jake Muzzin fits in with the Leafs (Sportsnet)
Andrew Berkshire looks at how much Muzzin might have benefitted from Drew Doughty. The conclusion: “Muzzin played the vast majority of his minutes at 5-on-5 with Doughty, but that hasn’t been the case for a very long time, now — four years in fact. Meanwhile, Muzzin is still having about the same level of success as he had with Doughty.”

Muzzin is the right pickup for the Leafs, but can he play right side? (Toronto Sun)
Former Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said he never played the right side under him in LA but that he formed the “best second-pairing in the league” next to Alec Martinez with Martinez on the right and Muzzin on the left.