Well, guess that’s why he’s been pulled from all the advertising material for next season...
There have been rumors since the end of the season that Spezza, the Senators captain, would part ways with the only franchise he’s played for – which is becoming an annual rite for Ottawa – as he enters the final year of a 7-year contact.
That contract carries a hefty $7 million cap hit, but according to Cap Geek the base salary for Spezza next season dips to $4 million, making him more appealing to teams that might be a tad more cash strapped. He still holds a bit of control over his destiny modified no-trade clause – he can limit the field to 19 teams via a 10-team “no trade” list – but that’s still a wide field of teams vying for his services.
Spezza had 23 goals and 43 assists in 75 games for the Senators this season, although he was a slight drag on possession for the team when he was on the ice (minus-1.1% in Fenwick, minus-0.2% in corsi at even strength). He’s a former 90-point center (in 2007-08) who will turn 31 this Friday.
Murray reiterated that he’d like to "send him somewhere we don't have to play him every night,” which jibes with what Bruce Garrioch reported last month:
League sources say the top candidates to acquire Spezza are in the West because Murray hasn't really been willing to entertain much interest from the East -- including Florida and the Rangers.
The Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks are all believed to have an interest in Spezza, who had 23-43-66 points in 75 games last season. "The issue the Senators are facing is they aren't going to get as good a player back if they deal Jason Spezza," said a league executive Tuesday. "You don't get No. 1 centres just anywhere. Guys who get those kinds of points are hard to come by. They'll get a No. 1 pick in the draft but that guy isn't going to help them anytime soon.”
The Ducks are going to be in the market for Ryan Kesler, so their interest in Spezza might be dictated by that derby.
One team to really watch: The Nashville Predators, who will have the cap space and will love the real salary for Spezza for next season. Playing for Peter Laviolette might be a good move for a No. 1 center whose numbers need to start matching that label again.
Plus, a No. 1 center would give the Predators the Holy Trinity for success in the NHL: Standout goalie, standout defenseman and a standout center.
Of course, as the Ottawa Citizen noted: "If Spezza ended up in Nashville, the Predators centre depth could very well be Spezza, Mike Fisher, Matt Cullen. That’s the same way Ottawa’s centres lined up in the 2010 playoffs."
Where do you see Spezza ending up?