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What Will the Ottawa Senators do with Jason Spezza 

Jamie Gilcig

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ottawa Senators.  I’m not sure why; but their current ownership seem intent on destroying a team that actually had some tradition; first by not allowing Daniel “Alfie” Alfredsson to finish his career with honour, and now it looks like they’re going to dump Jason Spezza, a rare lifer in the NHL.

Spezza’s a funny bird.  A rare big centre that will put up that point per game.  Almost every team in the NHL would love to have him, and I have a hunch he’d give the Sens a hometown discount to stay.

It was a bit of a mistake giving Jason the “C”.    What he does he does very well when healthy.  He is an offensive force as seen when he had a decent wingman last year; especially when Ales Hemsky escaped Edmonton and put up 17 points in 20 games with the Sens; mostly playing with Spezza.

Jason-Spezza-Flickr-kaatiya

Jason-Spezza-Flickr-kaatiya

Spezza was tied with John Tavares at #28 for points last year in the NHL with 66 points in 75 games.  He did finish -26 after a brutal start, but the team was not very good after losing key veterans like Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar.  He was 32nd in points per game ahead of David Kreci, Patrick Marleau, and Anze Kopitar as well.   Spezza has also been a star in the play offs with 52 points in 56 games.   He’s a bonafide #1 Centre and at the age of 30 not quite finished or done with his career.

He has one year left on his contract which has a $7M cap, but only $4m salary which actually is ideal for Ottawa as they are not going to be a cap team.

While most teams would want him not every team can take on his cap hit,  and not every team that can necessarily wants a player at his stage of his career.  A good season will guarantee him a large contract extension.

Ideally Ottawa would want to trade him out West so let’s see what kind of fit is out there based on current rosters and situations.

For Ottawa to give up Spezza they’d need a player, prospect, and draft pick most likely although nothing is written in stone.  Ottawa is a hot mess right now; possibly ready to be blown up, and possibly just needing to be tinkered with.   Stronger direction and commitment from ownership will decide that as well as the insistence on playing way below the cap.

Poor marketing rarely equals the best results support wise, but there are legions of Sens fans who support the team; especially when it’s winning.

Chicago would love to have a Jason Spezza body to be their #2 and he’d be a great fit with their wingers.   Cap wise they have a few big contracts coming up; but depending on what magic can be made it’d be an interesting fit.  Would Chicago consider giving up a Brandan Saad?

San Jose is looking to shake up its roster, but I don’t see any magic there.

Could Ottawa snag Ryan Kesler from the Canucks?  It’d be an interesting deal and one that I’m sure coach Maclean would be mighty happy with.   If he truly is to force a trade from Vancouver there may be a fit for both teams.   His contract has two more seasons at $5M per.

LA might be looking to move Mike Richards and his long term contract.  It’s back load might be attractive to Ottawa even if the term is long and his production was low this year.  Ottawa needs new leadership and it looks like Richards may need some new scenery.  Richards is a year younger than Spezza.

Phoenix is looking to make a splash and is desperate for offense after Mike Ribeiro didn’t provide enough of it last season.  There are some interesting pieces, but I’m not sure I see an immediate return for the Sens?

Winnipeg is looking to make some noise and buzz about Byfuglien  and Kane is loud.   Could a possible fit be there?   If Winnipeg wanted Spezza I certainly see a fit in many ways; although a returning centre would not be a key.   Could you imagine a D with both Karlsson and Byfuglien?

There’s a lot of chatter of the Blues being dance partners with Ottawa; but for a team that has so carefully built itself with youth is Spezza a fit?  St.Louis has most of its depth on Defense.  Short of the Blues going crazy I don’t see a trade here.

Edmonton would be an interesting team to look at for Spezza as they need a good veteran who’s also productive.  Spezza in the Oiler’s top six would fit in fine.  If O town wanted a centre back they’d be looking at Sam Gagner who wouldn’t be the worst; but certainly not the best addition.    Short of Edmonton letting go of one of their blue chippers everything else is a crap shoot with the Oilers; even Nail Yakupov isn’t a “sure thing” at this point.

Could Sean Monahan be pried from Calgary?  After Brian Burke’s failure with the Leafs I have a hunch he wants a faster improvement from the Flames.   Monahan is the kind of talent that could pry Spezza a lot faster than from some other teams.  Depending on the other elements coming and going there could be a deal there.

Of course Ottawa could stay the path and keep their big Centre and lock him up long term, especially if Spezza wants to stay.    As good a fit as Ales Hemsky was he also could be retained or replaced.  You need to have a good wing man for a player like Spezza for him to be effective.

You also need a better transition game so that he spends more time shooting than back checking or playing in his own zone.

Ultimately the market and Spezza will decide if he gets moved.  If he wants to go and the Sens can’t sign him up long term he’ll be on his way and Ottawa will have a very new look next season.

What do you think Sens fans?  You can post your comments below.

Jamie Gilcig

Ultimate Hockey Network

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