Mike Futa knows what the Los Angeles Kings are missing in Jake Muzzin.
The assistant general manager of the team met the defender more than a decade ago when Muzzin was a member of Sault Ste. OHL. Marie Greyhounds Muzzin eventually evolved into a top-quality defense of four NHL who was a "black ace" during the 2012 Kings Stanley Cup race and then played a vital role in the blue line alongside Drew Doughty when he again won in 2014.
Muzzin was also one of the first defenders to be rewarded with a lucrative long-term contract, thanks in large part to his strong possession and attempted shooting metrics.
The 29-year-old has traded for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday for striker Carl Grundstrom, the rights of unsigned point guard Sean Durzi, and a choice in the first round of the 2019 draft.
The Kings, currently in last place in the Western Conference, are about to undergo a rebuild, so Muzzin being treated is not a surprise. Still, Futa will miss him.
"I was very lucky to find Jake when he was a free agent [in junior] and we got on well and I just fell in love with him as a player and our development team, we ended up hiring him as a free agent and we brought him, "Futa explained during an appearance on Tuesday at Prime Time Sports. "He did a wonderful job on our development team, he did an incredible job and it turned out to be an incredible part of the success we had."
The deal came one month before the 2014 NHL Trade deadline, which should benefit the Maple Leafs during the stretch as they seek to secure the advantage of playing home in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Muzzin's current contract goes through the 2019-20 campaign, so it's not a rental situation either.
In fact, Futa described Monday's trade as "an exceptional agreement for both teams" and is happy with the three pieces that the Kings received in return.
"Obviously, you look at the ranking, it does not look like it's going to be a high choice in the first round, but it's a first round choice and we feel like we've done very well with the two prospects we got and Toronto gets an incredible kid who is a champion, "Futa said." It's another piece for them to achieve the goals Jake achieved here as a Los Angeles king. "
Grundstrom is not ready for the NHL, but he's close.
"He's going to start in Ontario with our American League team," Futa said in giving his opinion on the 21-year-old Umea native. "The Swedish players are such honest and honest players and he's a guy we see as a low-level honest hockey player who's going to play in the National Hockey League. has some speed, he has some character, he has some familiarity with [countryman] Adrian Kempe.
"We had done our homework on him. We liked him in his year of recruitment.
Prime Time Sports
Jake Muzzin Can Help The Leafs
January 29, 2019
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Futa added that the Kings administration is happy with Grundstrom's progression and gave credit to Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe and his team. Grundstrom, a choice in the second round of 2016, had eight goals and 14 points in 20 playoff games on the way to winning the Calder Cup with Marlies a season ago.
There is some familiarity with Durzi within the Kings organization, too, since amateur hunter Bryan Denney was the director of the Owen Sound Attack team when Durzi was summoned to OHL.
"We really know we have two talented young people we know personally and feel comfortable with, and we think they will be great for our future," added Futa. "There is still a lot of work to be done, but we are comfortable with our development team and other things we can do well – especially with Durzi.
"He has a great offensive advantage in the offensive power play, but it is a work in progress. He has had some injury problems and durability has been a problem, but a tall, high caliber kid. the choice in the first round, whether it's 20 or 30, is someone who also works for our future. "