I am not saying it is going to happen, and as a noted Jason Spezza apologist I am not even advocating it happening. But popular opinion among many pundits seems to point in the direction of the Ottawa Senators at least gauging interest from around the league in captain Spezza, but it is purely speculation and fantasy at the moment.
Spezza has one year remaining on his contract that carries a cap hit of $7M but a salary of just $4M. This is a very attractive contract to many teams around the league that are near the floor, including the Senators, which is one reason I don’t see a deal happening. But, now that the season is over there will be much speculation about Spezza and over the next few days I will do a series entitled “Destination Jason Spezza” outlining some possible landing spots for the centre, why it would work, why it wouldn’t, and what the possible return might be. These are assuming the inquiries are made and the Senators are looking to move Spezza, which I am not convinced they will end up doing.
Up first, a divisional rival, the Buffalo Sabres.
WHY IT WOULD WORK
- Buffalo has tons of cap space and are a young, rebuilding team that is very weak up the middle.
- Tim Murray is the Buffalo GM and knows Spezza’s ability from his years in Ottawa.
- The Senators are reportedly interested in rugged winger Chris Stewart who Buffalo acquired at the trade deadline and you would have to think would be included in a deal.
WHY IT WOULDN’T WORK
- Spezza’s leadership has been called into question and Buffalo might not want his style of play being held up as the example for their younger players.
- Spezza has a no trade clause and might not be inclined to accept a deal to the rebuilding Sabres, or re-sign there for his next contract so it would be one and done in Buffalo.
- Buffalo is in the Senators division and the return would have to blow Bryan Murray’s mind to consider dealing Spezza in-division.
Obviously the Senators would be looking for Chris Stewart and something else, but don’t expect it to be the Sabres’ first round pick either this year or next. Those are way too valuable to be sent to a divisional rival or anywhere else because they could both be top 1 or 2 picks. B. Murray is on the record stating that he would like to get back into the first round this summer, but it won’t be at the expense of Buffalo. Ottawa would love to get a package for Cody Hodgson and/or one of the young defensive prospects like Rasmus Ristolainen or Nikita Zadorov. That is going to take more than Spezza and would be a 5 or 6 piece blockbuster trade.
A deal with the Sabres might happen in the summer to bring Stewart to Ottawa, but it is highly unlikely that Spezza moves to Buffalo, even though it is closer to his hometown of Toronto.