The Toronto Maple Leafs are closing in on a contract extension with defenseman Jake Muzzin, according to Darren Dreger on TSN’s Insider Trading.
Muzzin and Toronto have reportedly been working on a new contract throughout this season and has been one of the major storylines prior to the defenseman’s pending unrestricted free agency this summer.
“It’s not done yet,” Dreger said, “but the expectation is, if all things progress in the fashion that they are, that they should have a contract extension in place for (Muzzin) as early as, or before, the trade deadline.”
The expectation is that prior to the Feb. 24 deadline, there will be pen put to paper and the Leafs will retain the services of one of their most consistent defenders.
“Understandably, because the Maple Leafs are a cap-strapped team, there are some cap gymnastics at play here,” Dreger said. “They’re working on some different scenarios, I would say, but the expectation is that Jake Muzzin will be extended by the deadline.”
The 30-year-old blueliner is in the final year of a five-year, $20-million contract, carrying a cap hit of $4-million. There is certainly the expectation that Muzzin will be deserving of a significant raise in salary with Toronto.
On Hockey Night in Canada’s Saturday Headlines, Chris Johnston reported that Toronto and Muzzin have already agreed on a four-year extension, in principle.
“It sounds as though, they have fairly agreed on a four-year term that would keep him in Toronto,” Johnston said. “All the details have not yet been hammered out and there are a couple things at play here...You can only commit so much salary to the season following the (current one), well that amount goes up by 10 per cent on March 1.”
Due to Toronto signing defenseman Justin Holl and forward Pierre Engvall to extensions earlier this season, it appears that they will have to wait until next month to make the deal official.
If the term of four years is correct, that will keep Muzzin with the Maple Leafs thorough the 2023-24 season and until he is 35 years of age.
According to CapFriendly, Toronto will have slightly more than $10-million of cap space available this summer. With fellow defenseman Tyson Barrie becoming a UFA and Travis Dermott earning his RFA status, there will certainly be some headaches for GM Kyle Dubas when it comes to managing his blue line.
It all just depends on the cap hit for this deal to look ideal for the future of the Maple Leafs.
Through 46 games played this season, Muzzin has three goals and 15 points.
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