With the news that Jake Muzzin will be out of the lineup until late February, the Toronto Maple Leafs only have to look one province west to find what they need. It’s no secret the Winnipeg Jets have stockpiled an overabundance of NHL-ready defensemen, meaning a deal between the two clubs could make sense and be a real fit.
Muzzin is dealing with a cervical spine injury and won’t be re-evaluated until February, and veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie is also out of the lineup for a minimum of two weeks with an oblique injury. While the Leafs are down defensemen, the Jets have been fortunate to earn their 9-4-1 record without top-line forward Nikolaj Ehlers. He has been out with a lower-body injury for the past 12 games and has no specific return date. His replacement on the Jets’ top line, Mason Appleton, just had wrist surgery and is out for two to three months. The Maple Leafs and Jets have needs the other can supply, and a deal between these clubs makes sense. Here are three I think would work for both teams.
Jets’ Brenden Dillon for Leafs’ Alex Kerfoot
Brenden Dillon is as close to a Muzzin clone as you could find. He is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, while Muzzin is 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. They both play a defense-first game, are rugged and tough, and are capable of clearing the front of the net. The one difference is Dillon has a contract that pays him $3.9 million per season, while the Maple Leafs pay Muzzin $5.625 million per season. That’s significant savings for a team with no wiggle room in cap space. Dillon also brings a no-nonsense attitude to the ice and has had an excellent start to the season with the Jets.
Brenden Dillon says one of the big changes to the Winnipeg Jets this season is how everyone’s role is clear. The rugged defenceman played his to a tee in Tuesday’s first-place showdown with division rival Dallas, getting into a first-period scrap that teammates say played a role in their 5-1 win.
The Jets need to bolster their offensive depth chart, and forward Alex Kerfoot would be a great fit. He’s off to a slow start this season but is coming off his best one offensively when he posted 13 goals and 38 assists for 51 points. More impressive was his plus/minus rating of plus-19. Being an offensive player who knows his defensive responsibilities would be right up Jets’ head coach Rick Bowness’ alley.
Kerfoot has been called a Swiss Army knife because he can play anywhere. He has been used by the Maple Leafs as a second-line winger and a third-line centre while spending time on both the penalty kill and second-unit power play.