The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injured reserve after he suffered a head injury during Monday's 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
That has some pundits pondering what Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas could do with that LTIR space as the March 21 trade deadline approaches.
Dubas was busy in the trade market prior to Muzzin's injury, shipping Nick Ritchie to the Arizona Coyotes for Ilya Lyubushkin and winger Ryan Dzingel, with the latter subsequently lost on waivers to the San Jose Sharks. He also acquired minor-league goaltender Carter Hutton from the Coyotes.
Losing Muzzin long-term would leave a big hole on the Leafs' blueline. With Cap Friendly showing the Leafs pressed for cap space, placing him on LTIR enables the Leafs to exceed the cap by roughly the equivalent of his $5.625-million cap hit if Dubas decides to add to his roster.
TSN's Darren Dreger suggested trade targets such as the Anaheim Ducks' Hampus Lindholm, the Dallas Stars' John Klingberg, the Montreal Canadiens' Ben Chiarot and the Seattle Kraken's Mark Giordano, However, he considered those to be “pie in the sky” scenarios.
Dreger also indicated the Leafs would like to add a top-six winger for their second line. Meanwhile, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggested things could get interesting if Dubas use that LTIR space. He suggested J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks as an option.
Dubas must be careful how he uses that LTIR space. If he uses it to add a player, he'll have to shed salary to become cap compliant if Muzzin returns before the end of the regular season.