Regardless of how you feel about Jason Spezza — love him or hate him — it’s been difficult for the past few weeks as Sens fans have been told at every turn that Ottawa’s first line center has no trade market.
Whether it was Doug MacLean’s informed opinion or an article by Greg Wyshynski that ran on Puck Daddy, Spezza’s value is going the way of British Petroleum. (Ed. note: It’s too bad the parallels there couldn’t be drawn further. I wish Spezza did a number on some Ducks in ’07.)
Granted, there are a number of legitimate reasons as to why Jason could be difficult to move — a history of back problems; a $7.0 million annual cap hit; a laugh that Wilfred Brimley would be ashamed of; and a reputation that Greg Wyshynski describes as not made of stern stuff, or at least the stern stuff you’d expect from a top-line center with his salary.
Ian Mendes was a little bit more descript in assessing Spezza’s reputation. In his Scaring Off Spezza article for Sportsnet, he wrote…
Because from Day 1, we’ve been conditioned to label Jason Spezza as an underachiever in our city. It started with the comment from Jacques Martin when he was cut in training camp in 2001, “This is a man’s league and he’s still a boy.” It intensified when he was made a healthy scratch in the 2004 playoffs. And the feeling that Spezza is never quite giving enough has never gone away.
Although Ian’s correct, the perception of Spezza as a chronic underachiever didn’t start when he arrived Ottawa. It’s a stigma that’s been attached to him since his junior days and one that he’s had a hard time shedding. (Ed. note: In his article, Mendes contrasts the postseason success of other number two picks who have put up similar numbers to Spezza in Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash. Mendes notes that most fans would prefer to have either player over Spezza if they had their choice while mentioning that Kovalchuk and Nash have combined to win only one playoff game. It’s an interesting point but by the same token, neither of the aforementioned two players have enjoyed the supporting cast that Spezza has enjoyed during his tenure here in Ottawa. It’s a example that’s often alluded to by those in the anti-Spezza “He’s Not a Winner” camp.)
Mind you, it’s not like its all Jason’s fault that the market isn’t exactly conducive for a trade. One of the recent trends in hockey necessitates that executives make concerted efforts to lock up their young core players before they hit unrestricted free agency. In consequence, it’s not like there’s a ton of teams who can make sense from a fiscal and player personnel perspective. With most competitive teams having their payroll pushing against the League’s cap limit, it’s tougher for teams to absorb other large contracts via trade without sending a bad contract the other way. In the new NHL, trading Spezza inevitably means that Bryan Murray will likely get a worse return on his investment than the one that Chris Neil got for investing in his brothers’ excavation company. (Ed. note: For the record, I’m pretty empathatic for Chris Neil because of the way that the local media handled the coverage of this story.)
On the other hand, in a summer that features a free agent class that is being described by experts as one of the weakest that they’ve seen in years, a team would prefer to overpay a center like Tomas Plekanec than give up a fair package in a trade with Ottawa. It just seems a bit strange to me that some teams wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to acquire a legitimate first line center who can put up points.
*** Below is a list of the NHL’s centers and their respective cap hits. Take a look at how Spezza fits in in the greater scheme of things:
|10/11 Cap Hit||Points|
|Sidney Crosby||8.7 M|
|Evgeni Malkin||8.7 M|
|Eric Staal||8.25 M|
|Brad Richards||7.8 M|
|Vincent Lecavalier||7.727 M|
|Scott Gomez||7.357 M|
|Joe Thornton||7.2 M|
|Chris Drury||7.050 M|
|Jason Spezza||7.0 M|
|Anze Kopitar||6.8 M|
|Pavel Datsyuk||6.7 M|
|Niklas Backstrom||6.7 M|
|Paul Statsny||6.6 M|
|Daniel Briere||6.5 M|
|Jonathan Toews||6.3 M|
|Henrik Sedin||6.1 M|
|Mike Cammalleri||6.0 M|
|Mike Richards||5.75 M|
|Shawn Horcoff||5.5 M|
|Phil Kessel||5.4 M|
|Ryan Getzlaf||5.325 M|
|Jeff Carter||5.0 M|
|Mike Ribeiro||5.0 M|
|Ryan Kesler||5.0 M|
|Michael Nylander||4.875 M|
|Patrice Bergeron||4.75 M|
|Andy MacDonald||4.7 M|
|David Legwand||4.5 M|
|Jason Arnott||4.5 M|
Finally, I just wanted to apologize for the lack of updates lately. With a lack of news, I was too lazy to devote an entire few sentences to publish some small stories that were otherwise available to most view any reputable news source. (ie. the Chris Neil story, Roman Wick signing, blah blah blah) If I can’t out Associate Press the Associated Press, I’m not going to bother.
The Spezza Rally – “He’s not floating as much as he used to”
As Erin Nicks correctly points out on her website, Allen Panzeri’s coverage of the Jason Spezza rally for the Canwest News Service was riddled with unintentional comedy. However, I think Erin overlooked the best part of the article — That Sens fans feel so strongly with the anti-Spezza sentiments that they’re willing to rally this Saturday on Parliament Hill… unless it rains. Nice commitment level guys.
The Next Installment of The 6th Sens Podcast
We’re back in the studios to record the next episode of the podcast and it’s going to feature an interview with the Senators’ director of player personnel, Pierre Dorion. If you have any questions that you would like us to ask Pierre, send it to our email address.
Yahoo! Sports’ Top 50 Free Agents
In what will assuredly provoke some discussion, Yahoo! Sports’ Sam McCaig has assembled his list of this summer’s unrestricted free agents. Of note, Anton Volchenkov drew a generous third overall ranking:
A shot-blocking, bodychecking, stay-at-home stud. No offense here, which brings his price down to $5-6 million, but few defensemen are more proficient in their own zone than Volchenkov.
Matt Cullen placed thirty-second on the list. Eight spots lower than the steaming bag of crap known as Olli Jokinen and Andy Sutton failed to crack the top 50.
Fisher/Underwood Wedding Rumours
Bruce Garrioch has successfully entered the entertainment rumour business by reporting that there’s nothing to the gossip that Mike Fisher and Carrie Underwood’s wedding will be postponed until late July. According to Fisher’s agent, Todd Reynolds, “I think that this (meal talk) is just people looking for something to write about.”
In other words, it completely parallels the Jason Spezza trade request.
2010 Draft Preview
Over at Hockey’s Future, there’s a glossed over 2010 draft preview that includes a review of the Senators’ prospects. There’s not too much to be learned here if you’re an ardent prospect follower. However, if you’re not too familiar with the Senators’ prospects, it’s worth a glance. While I’d love to see the Senators select a highly skilled center, the online magazine seems to think that Ottawa needs to address their lack of high-impact scoring wingers.