It’s hard to describe a player with seven goals and nine assists and a team-leading plus-minus defensive rating of plus-16 in 45 games last season as a prospect. But it’s important to remember that Jake Muzzin would have spent last season with the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the AHL if Willie Mitchell (knee) hadn’t missed all of 2012-13 and Matt Greene (back) hadn’t sat out all but five games.
Mitchell and Green and sound again and the competition for jobs in the Kings’ defense corps could leave Muzzin as the odd-man out when the regular season opens next month.
In addition to the two veterans, the Kings also acquired veteran Jeff Schultz, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound hulk who signed as a free agent during the offseason. Keaton Ellerby and Alec Martinez also are in the mix for ice time as training camp begins.
Muzzin has plenty of skills, especially with the puck on his stick blade, and the Kings’ coaching staff likes the way he plays the game. The question is whether he can carve out a niche the way he did last season. If not, he’ll be headed back to the minor leagues.