May 10, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin (6) handles the puck against the Anaheim Ducks in game four of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center. The Ducks defeated the Kings 2-0 to tie the series 2-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What To Make Of: Jake Muzzin

Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For the past two seasons, Jake Muzzin has slowly been solidifying his position on the L.A. Kings roster while making a name for himself in the NHL. Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 5th round (141st overall) in 2007, Muzzin found his way to Hollywood in 2010 when he signed an entry-level contract with the Kings as a 21 year old free agent. Muzzin has worked hard all year long (this is his second full NHL season) to become the number four defenseman on a L.A. blueline full of talent.

Jake Muzzin is a two-way defenseman who is capable of jumping up on the rush to create an odd-man scoring chance for his team, while being able to get back into position very quickly if the puck starts going the other way. Muzzin isn’t afraid to use his 6’3″ frame to shut down the opposition, and it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll shy away from contact with a career average of 6.52 hits per game. To put that in perspective, Muzzin, who is making $1 million this year, has .48 more hits per game than Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who is making $8 million this season. Another helpful way he uses his big frame is by getting in the way of shooting and passing lanes. By getting in the way of shooters, Muzzin often times exposes himself to flying rubber, which is how he has managed to block an average of 2.82 shots per game in his career.

Daryl Sutter and the rest of the Kings coaching staff have a lot of faith in the 25 year old Muzzin, playing him an average  of 19:03 per game this season. The real story of Muzzin’s success this year has been in the playoffs. After scoring 5 goals for LA in the regular season, Jake Muzzin already has four goals and eight points in the 16 games he’s played for LA this postseason, including the game winning goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Muzzin is signed through next year, but once his contract is up he is in line to get a big pay raise which might not even come from the Kings, as by that point he will be a UFA. Muzzin fits perfectly into the Kings lineup, and he reminds this particular writer a lot of Kings legend Rob Blake, who captained LA for six seasons. Jake Muzzin projects to be a top-four defenseman in this league for years to come, and his future certainly looks like it will be an exciting one. During LA’s 2012 Stanley Cup run, Muzzin was on the roster as a healthy scratch in case of any injuries, but he didn’t play enough games to meet the requirements to have his name engraved on Lord Stanley. The Kings are only 7 wins away from the Cup, and Muzzin will play a big role for LA if they look to hoist hockey’s greatest trophy once more.

Tags: 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Chicago Black Hawks Jake Muzzin LA Kings

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