Dubas working behind the scenes to lock up an important piece of the Leafs’ core

Contrast this with the very public negotiations for Marner and Nylander. Interesting approach.

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The 2020-21 Toronto Maple Leafs’ defence corps figures to look a LOT different from the team’s current group. Of the team’s current blue liners, only Morgan Rielly, Justin Holl, Rasmus Sandin and Martin Marincin are under contract for next season. That means one thing: Change. What happens to Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci? Travis Dermott, who is a pending restricted free agent, will likely be retained but Muzzin, Barrie and Ceci could all leave the team via free agency never to look back.

Barrie is almost certainly on his way out the door as he could command as much as $8 million annually on a new deal. Ceci just hasn’t provided enough value to warrant an extension. Muzzin though… Muzzin is an interesting case. He’s fit in well with the team and has gone on record stating that he’d “love to stay” in Toronto.  Interestingly enough, it seems that sentiment is shared by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

In a recent appearance on Sportsnet’s Tim & Sid Show, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported that Dubas and the Leafs are attempting to lock down Muzzin and keep him as a core member.

“I think they are trying to see if they can sign Muzzin,” Friedman said. “I can’t prove it — nobody is going to talk to me about it — but there is enough smoke out there that leads me to believe the two sides are taking a run at this and seeing if they can find common ground. It won’t be easy, but I think they are trying.”

Interesting. Muzzin is coming off a deal that pays him $4 million annually and is likely looking for a modest raise on that number. He’s 30 years old and is likely looking at inking his final NHL deal. In other words, term will be a major factor. Dubas and the Leafs do NOT want to tie themselves to an aging blueliner for any longer than they have to, so any talk about a 5+ year contract is likely out the window. But… a three year deal worth $15 million? Who says no?