The Dallas Stars have been linked to the Ottawa Senators in rumours involving Senators center Jason Spezza. Their general manager, Jim Nill, was on Dallas/Fort Worth radio this morning on The Ticket 1310 talking at length about his desire to acquire a second line center and most importantly, he even confirmed his very real interest in acquiring Spezza (amongst other unnamed players).
I’ve transcribed the important bits of the interview that are related to his desire for a center or Jason Spezza, but if you’d like to listen to the full interview, you can click here or listen to the audio embedded at the bottom of the post. (Thanks to @NHLJay for providing me with the link to the audio!)
As always, my thoughts are in bold.
On having an owner who’s willing to spend and whether the organization could make a splash…
“Well we’re looking at all options. There is some names out there and I’ve been in contact with teams about some of these kind of big name players. Everyone knows who they are that are out there. We’re in conversations with them. We’re speaking with them, trying to get some deals done. The tough part is these players all have no-trades and they control where they go, so they drive the bus a little bit too. But, we’ve been in contact with the teams and we’re in the mix on some of the guys. On the flip side, there’s a price that goes when you make these trades and you have to be very conscious of that. So we’re going to kind of walk through this; there’s lots of options. The nice thing is, we’ve got a little bit of flexibility in that we’ve got some great kids coming and I want to be careful. I don’t want to all of a sudden make a move that also either gets rid of some of these kids or closes the door for them for two or three years and now we kind of stunt their growth or opportunity coming forward. As a lot of people might not know, our farm team down in Texas, they won the Calder Cup this year. That’s like winning the Stanley Cup in the minor leagues and it’s a hard, hard thing to win. And our young kids really played well. They’re a lot closer than we thought, so we have got to be conscious of that also.”
Nill sounds like any general manager who’s doing his due diligence while playing up the performance of his kids. It’s a familiar refrain that I’ve grown accustomed to hearing in any Senators management-type interview.
On another note, it’s interesting to hear him reference a player’s no-trade clause. It’s possible that the Stars would have had interest in a Ryan Kesler (would only waive to go to Chicago or Anaheim) or a Joe Thornton (who reportedly won’t waive to leave San Jose), but to the best of my knowledge, Jason Spezza does not have Dallas on the list of teams that he cannot be traded to.
On what the one puzzle piece would be that he would like to add…
“I would say it would be nice to get a second line center iceman. It’s either that or, in my dreams, I dream about a number one defenceman, but in reality, those guys just aren’t out there. They don’t come along and now, the reason why I say (we need a) center is because I’m excited about our backend. When we just won the Calder Cup down in Texas, we got four kids down there who are all knocking on the door. They’re all very close. Nemeth, Patrick Nemeth, was up here a little bit at the end of the year, he’s ready to make the big team. Oleksiak, our number one pick of three years ago, 6’7”, he’s very close. Jyrki Jokipakka, Finnish player, came out of nowhere for us. We didn’t know if he would make the team in Texas last year and he was one of our best defencemen down there. Klingberg, Johan Klingberg, played over in Sweden last year. He’s another guy that’s got kind of the Erik Karlsson skills. He’s a power play guy, a right shot. So we’ve got four kids knocking on the door, so that the need on defence isn’t what it was probably three or four years ago. It’s starting to come along with the guys that are already here, so really, it’s kind of a longwinded answer that I’ve given you here, is it’d be nice to have a second line centerman.”
I wish the Senators had a guy named Jyrki Jokipakka. I want him included in any Spezza deal based solely on his name alone. As an aside, it’s refreshing to hear another NHL GM use Erik Karlsson as a reference point when describing another NHL prospect. We’ve known it in Ottawa for awhile, but Karlsson’s the measuring stick when evaluating or comparing an offensive defencemen’s skills.
On whether it’s possible that he would give up some of these kids for that second line center…
“No, I definitely would, but it would have to make sense for us too. I’m not going to sell the farm just for a one or two-year window here. That’s where I’ve got the flexibility. I’ve got to be patient. I don’t want to make a move that in two years, we’re going to sit back and say, ‘Oh my gosh, look at them,’ type of thing. As an organization, we’re going to be very careful. We’re excited about what we have here. We’re excited at what’s coming along. There are some options out there. If they make sense for us, giving up the right assets we’ll do it, but I’m not going to sell the farm.”
Dear Jim Nill, about that one or two-year window, could we interest you in signing an extension with Jason Spezza to help quell those fears?
On Jason Spezza the type of player he might be intrigued by…
“Yes, no those are the… we are definitely intrigued by those types of players. I’ve been in contact with every team in the league and I know who’s getting moved and who’s available to come to us if we can make a deal, so those are definitely the types of things that we’re looking at. Once again I get back to, we’d love to go in that direction as long as what the asking price in return, as long as it’s a hockey deal that makes sense for us, that we would definitely look at that.”
Come on Bryan Murray, make something happen here.
Breaking: according to reports, Paul Stastny has St. Louis on his shortlist of teams that he may sign with as a free agent. St. Louis of course is allegedly Spezza’s preferred destination to land with in a trade.