On Friday morning the Toronto Maple Leafs made it official, they’re parting ways with general manager Kyle Dubas.
Dubas took over from Lou Lamoriello on May 11, 2018, and in that time the Los Angeles Kings made two big trades with the Leafs.
The Jake Muzzin Trade:
Seen by most as the official starting point for the Kings’ rebuild, on Jan. 28, 2019, the Kings traded Jake Muzzin to the Leafs in exchange for Sean Durzi, Carl Grundstrom and a 2019 first-round pick.
It was a big haul for Muzzin, who the Leafs viewed as an ideal second-pairing defenseman with some size who could take some pressure off Morgan Riely on the top pair.
A pair of recent second-round picks and an added first was a big gamble for Dubas, and Muzzin made it look worthwhile early. He started his career in Toronto well but couldn’t help them past the first round.
Unfortunately, injuries have severely limited Muzzin in the last two years and have put his NHL future in doubt.
For the Kings, this trade has been pretty good. Durzi broke onto the roster after a slew of injuries in the 2021-22 season and hasn’t left since. He’s established himself as an everyday player on the roster, shown some versatility by shifting to the left side and has been a key figure on the power play.
There are some downsides, he isn’t the best defender and makes too many mistakes with the puck, but he’s overall been a plus for the Kings since he was acquired. His future with the organization is still up in the air with Jordan Spence and Brandt Clarke both pushing for a spot, but he’ll provide plenty of value in a potential trade.
After playing in most of the Kings’ games during the shortened 2020-21 season, Grundstrom’s been a little in and out of the lineup over the past two seasons. He’s one of the team’s most physical forwards and when he’s hot he scores a lot of goals.
Consistency’s been an issue for Grundstrom and he’s looking at another summer of battling for his spot. But he’s played almost 200 games for the Kings over the last four seasons and had some stretches of good play. Another plus for the Kings, if not a home run.
The big piece of this deal was the first-round pick, which ended up being the 22nd overall pick in 2019. The Kings selected Tobias Bjornfot with that pick, who’s had a slightly up-and-down career so far.
He came in and impressed quickly, even earning some praise from Drew Doughty as an 18-year-old and was an NHL regular after just one season in the AHL. He was the first defenseman in his draft to reach 100 games and has shown flashes in the NHL, but hindsight being 20/20 he came up a little early.
He played the majority of last season in the AHL and formed a solid partnership with Spence while jumping into 10 NHL games for the Kings.
The talent’s clear with Bjornfot, he’s a smooth-skating defenseman who defends well and has some decent skill on the puck. But he’s often too passive both with the puck and when defending.
If he can develop some confidence and maybe add a little more muscle, he can be a solid NHL defenseman.
Overall, a good trade for the Kings given their objective to rebuild at the time. Durzi and Grundstrom have been solid NHL players over the last few seasons and Bjornfot still has plenty of potential.
The Jack Campbell/Kyle Clifford Trade:
After resurrecting his career with the Kings, Jack Campbell was left as the odd man out with Jonathan Quick as the number one and Cal Petersen viewed as Quick’s heir apparent.
In need of help in net and some toughness in their bottom six, Dubas targeted Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Kings. Dealing two third-round picks and an undrafted forward from Thousand Oaks to the Kings.
Not much was expected of Trevor Moore when the Kings acquired him, most people viewed him as a solid bottom-six forward with some skill. And most expected him to be exposed for the Seattle expansion draft.
Instead, Moore impressed during the shortened 2020-21 season and earned himself protection in the expansion draft.
Then, during the second half of the 2021-22 season, Moore was moved up to the second line with Phil Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. Moore would then lead the team in points in the second half of the season and establish himself as a top-six forward.
His play eventually earned him a five-year, $21 million contract extension in December. Last season Moore was plagued by concussion issues and we never saw his best play, but he looked back to himself in the playoffs.
He was creating chances for his linemates at a high rate and was part of a line that did well to contain the Edmonton Oilers’ stars at five-on-five.
Which players created the most 5v5 scoring chances by passing the puck in the first round?
Data from AllThreeZones pic.twitter.com/BqBbZrthM9
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) May 10, 2023
If he can carry over his play from the playoffs, he’ll be well worth that extension and a big part of the Kings’ plans moving forward.
The two picks traded alongside Moore turned into Alex Laferriere, and after another trade, Kirill Kirsanov.
Laferriere has rocketed up the Kings’ prospect pool and now looks like one of the more NHL-ready prospects in the system, signing his ELC just before the season ended.
He looks like a potential third-round steal and a future middle-six forward.
Kirsanov has spent the last two seasons splitting time between the KHL and VHL. A physical, shutdown left defenseman, it’s a little difficult to judge Kirsanov’s play in Russia.
His inability to play at the World Juniors due to Russia’s suspension isn’t ideal either. And despite the initial projection on his development being a maximum of two years in the KHL, he’s set to play a third next season.
Acquiring Moore alone in this deal makes it a great one for the Kings but with another potential NHL contributor in Laferriere and a wild card in Kirsanov. The Kings won this trade by a big margin.