The Los Angeles Kings will head into the new season with their blue line almost completely returned, with the exception of Rob Scuderi, who departed as a free agent. Jake Muzzin was the final piece of the puzzle, one which was solved with a new contract on Friday.
The two sides were set to head to arbitration, with Muzzin holding restricted free agent status. Coming off of a breakout year of sorts, he had certainly earned a new contract from the Kings. Heading into the new season, he’ll have to take another step forward, especially with the departure of Scuderi.
The new deal that Muzzin received from the Kings is fantastic value, given the year he had. He was finally given an opportunity to succeed and took advantage of it, with the new deal paying him $2 million total, amounting to a $1 million cap hit between the two seasons. That’ll set him up for a nice deal in a couple of years if he continues to progress.
Muzzin was a key offensive presence for the Kings from the blue line in 2013. His 16 points were third on the team among defensemen, trailing only Slava Voynov and Drew Doughty. He was an asset on the power play, with seven of his points, including three goals, coming on the man advantage.
With the departure of Scuderi, Muzzin could be relied upon to take over a bit of a larger role for the Kings next season. We already know he’s capable of putting up points, with a big shot from the point. He plays the physical game as well, which makes him solid in his own zone. He’s capable of being an all-around defenseman.
Which is what the Kings could need. Scuderi is gone, Willie Mitchell could miss some or all of 2013-14 season, and who knows what you’re getting from Matt Greene. It’ll be interesting to see how the Kings utilize Muzzin moving forward, but it should be in a larger role, and he’ll need to take a step forward in 2013-14.