Opinion: What the Jake Muzzin Trade Means For the Toronto Maple Leafs Going Forward

Pretty much everyone saw a trade like this coming, with the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring a top-4 defence-man by the trade deadline. This trade has set up some serious implications for the Leafs moving forward. Let's discuss.
1. Jake Gardiner is done for
Several analysts have spoken about Jake Gardiner's next contract, whether it is with the Maple Leafs or not. Many believe that Gardiner could receive an AAV of up to 6 million dollars per season. If this is true, then Kyle Dubas will need to choose between Gardiner and Muzzin. While he is a year older, Muzzin is much stronger in his own zone, and will have a cap hit up to 2 million dollars cheaper than Gardiner. It doesn't make sense for the Leafs to keep Gardiner, when they need to re-sign players like Matthews, Marner, and Kapenen.

2. Leafs are likely not finished acquiring defence-men
While acquiring Muzzin certainly helps the team's defensive core, it doesn't quite hit the nail on the head. The team still needs help on the right side, and playing Muzzin on his opposite side may not be an effective solution.

What this tells me is that Gardiner may even be traded along with another pick or prospect in order to get a right-shot defence-man. With their 1st round pick now dealt away, players like Ian Scott and Timothy Liljegren would be next in line if another trade were to go down. If the Leafs chose to deal a roster player away, names like Gardiner, Kapenen, and Nylander would be the likely candidates. Players like Brett Pesce or Dougie Hamilton from Carolina are the obvious targets, but Chris Tanev or Damon Severson could be other possibilities.