The Leaf’s made two deadline day deals, adding forward depth at the NHL and AHL level. Despite these minor deals, the Leafs had three OTHER deadline moves that could be difference makers.
The Trade – Jake Muzzin
Kyle Dubas didn’t bother waiting for the trade deadline to make his most impactful trade of the season, acquiring LH shot defenseman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings.
This trade added a controllable player for one season after this year at a relatively reasonable dollar value at $4 million. Muzzin doesn’t fit the right-shot need but after some stubborn usage, Mike Babcock has seen the light and received his just rewards for starting him on the right side against Buffalo.
Muzzin was a threat from the point all night against the Sabres, tallying one assist and relishing his second pairing minutes beside Travis Dermott. Safe to say that new pairing is lapping the Gardiner-Zaitsev pairing.
If Muzzin couldn’t play the right side Dubas has spent far too much on an oversaturated position. Now that he’s in Toronto and being played again on the right side (and away from Zaitsev), Muzzin can offer some bruising hits and a lot of offensive upside. He’s the Leaf’s second best defender and leader in beard growth.
The Return – Tyler Ennis
Leaf fans were crying out for physical forward depth in their bottom line, but Ennis’ size made his return fly under the radar. Ennis, who had broken his foot in December, returned to the Leaf lineup against Montreal after more than a month rehabbing.
The small, veteran winger was rewarded for strong forechecking against the Habs with some second-unit power play time. He didn’t disappoint as he immediately repaid his coach’s faith with a PP goal.
He quietly has eight goals now, which isn’t bad for a fourth line player who has played in just 36 of the Leaf’s games this season. Don’t overlook his grit and experience just because he’s small.
The Call-Up – Trevor Moore
Some viewed Moore as the loser in the Petan trade but not so fast. Moore has provided great value as a sub-million dollar contract player and is making NHL sized waves for Toronto.
The AHL graduate seems to fit on the fourth line with relative ease. He brings intensity and speed to his line with that AHL fueled hunger. Moore’s positive impact on staple fourth line center Frederick Gauthier is worth recognition as well:
If Moore can continue to impress with Par Lindholm now gone, he’ll be a valuable asset ahead of Toronto’s cap crunched future. Realistically, the addition of Nic Petan along with the ascension of Moore form the minors means good things for both, and probably makes Brown expendable.