So now that it is almost a certainty that Jason Spezza will be moved (or at least the option pursued) after just 1 season as captain of the Ottawa Senators, I have been looking around at some possible landing spots for the captain. His $4M salary that comes with a $7M cap hit is good for some teams, but detrimental to others that are already near the cap.
I have already looked at the possibility of the Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators, and now it is time to turn the attention to one of the most obvious, even if the most unlikely, destinations, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
WHY IT WOULD WORK
- First and foremost, Spezza has a no trade clause, and it is no secret that if he isn’t playing in Ottawa, his preferred destination would be just down Highway 401, his home town of Toronto. If he is really pressured to move by the Senators, he could pull a power play and force it to be Leafs or bust.
- The Leafs haven’t had a first line center since Mats Sundin ungracefully departed. They would be salivating over getting a player of Spezza’s offensive ability to play in their top 6, and they love their hometown boys in TO.
WHY IT WOULDN’T WORK
- The Senators are not likely to dish its best offensive player to its most hated rival.
- The Senators would not want to face Spezza 4 or 5 times a year. Although it might give a certain segment of fans another reason to sell out Leafs games before Leafs fans can get ahold of them – to boo the polarizing Spezza.
- Toronto’s cap situation would make it difficult to complete the deal without Ottawa taking back some bad salary. The Leafs have 22M to spend on 10 players, and Spezza would take 1/3 of that cap space.
The Senators would be looking for a package including Nazem Kadri (who Bryan Murray and Brian Burke had a famous exchange about just prior to Kadri being drafted by the Leafs, while the Senators nabbed Jared Cowen), as well as perhaps a first round draft pick, and maybe a prospect. Like I mentioned with the Predators option, the Leafs first rounder this year is good enough to get a solid prospect, but not so good that it is untradeable.
Spezza has the upper hand, and if he really wants to go to Toronto, there isn’t much option for the Senators. It is almost a foregone conclusion that Spezza will probably end up with the Leafs after next season anyway, so if the Leafs offer the maximum return for the asset the Senators apparently can’t wait to deal, they might as well do it now. That being said, it is almost a no-win situation for the Senators, because if Spezza makes it known that he will only accept a deal to Toronto, it is Dany Heatley all over again.