Jason Spezza Dealt to the Dallas Stars

After Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill appeared on Dallas/Fort Worth radio yesterday and admitted to his interest in acquiring Jason Spezza, the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators have agreed to a trade involving the Senators’ center.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman elaborated slightly on the return that Ottawa is expected to receive.

And here’s the official return from Bob McKenzie:

Looking at Hockey Prospectus’ 2013 Organizational Rankings, the Senators acquired the Stars’ seventh best prospect in Chiasson, their ninth best prospect in Guptill and a prospect in Nicholas Paul who failed to crack the organization’s top fifteen prospects.

Alex Chiasson is the cornerstone of the deal and offers the Senators a young NHL player who, at 23 years of age, scored 13 goals and 35 points in 79 games – his first full season in the NHL.

Here is Prospectus‘ write up on Chiasson:

Year in Review: Chiasson suffered a couple of injuries in his rookie pro season. His play picked up around December, and he earned a brief call up to the NHL.

The Good: Chiasson is a skilled big man who protects the puck well with his 6’3” frame, while displaying a solid amount of physicality. He has solid, if not above-average puck possession ability. Chiasson shows fine hand-eye coordination in tight. His decision making has shown significant improvements to the point where it is now a strength, as he reads the game at a fine level. He has a high-end shot as well.

The Bad: Chiasson’s skating has come along, but he is still slightly below average in that regard. It is also questionable exactly how much offensive upside he has.

Projection: He could be a good third line power winger with a chance to play on a scoring line.

Chiasson is a 6’3″, 202 lb right winger and he was drafted in the second round (38th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft. Per Capgeek, he is slated to earn $866,667 with up to an additional $33,333 in bonuses in the final year of his entry-level deal in 2014/15.

Since Chiasson is the only asset with NHL experience under his belt, he’s the only player whose underlying numbers I can look at it, but for what it’s worth, they are slightly underwhelming.

With a Corsi Relative rating of -1.5-percent, Chiasson possession rate relative to that of his teammates left something to be desired and the Stars had the league’s 11th best corsi for percentage in the NHL last season.

According to ExtraSkater, the Stars only scored 39.2-percent of the time when Chiasson was on the ice at five-on-five, but I think part of this can be attributed to the Stars’ goaltenders who had a horrendous .887 save percentage.

Looking at his effect that he had on his linemates or their effect on him, the numbers at HockeyAnalysis.com suggest that Chiasson was carried more by his linemates than they were by him.

Alex Guptill is a 22-year old left winger from Newmarket, Ontario who left the University of Michigan at the conclusion of his junior year to join the Dallas Stars’ American Hockey League affiliate in Texas.

Guptill was the Stars’ third round pick (77th overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft.

Here is Prospectus‘ write up on him:

Year in Review: Guptill took significant strides forward this year. He led Michigan in scoring, and he was a significant offensive force in the NCAA.

The Good: Guptill is a toolsy forward with a lot of elements to his game. He can skate and handle the puck at above-average levels. Guptill’s first few steps are powerful, and with a decent power game, he can be tough to contain for defensemen. He is a creative forward with the offensive mind to be in on a lot of scoring chances. Guptill also has an above-average shot.

The Bad: Guptill’s defense showed notable progression this year, but he could still use work in that area. He needs to gain a little more strength. He will make the odd bad decision as well.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

The 6’2″, 191 lb prospect got into five games with the Texas Stars during the regular season – registering two assists. Although the Texas Stars would go on to win the 2015 Calder Cup, Guptill did not dress in any of the Stars’ playoff games.

Here are Guptill’s stats:

Nicholas Paul was the Stars’ fourth round pick (101st overall) from 2013 and he’s a 6’3″, 198 lb left winger who currently plays with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.

Here are his stats:


It’s tough to criticize the Senators for the deal itself since they didn’t have much leverage, but looking at the package as a whole, it’s slightly underwhelming despite its obvious quantity.

The Senators failed to net any of the Stars’ top young players and even though they nabbed a young NHL player in Chiasson, I’m not sure there’s enough there in his underlying numbers or in his scouting projections to think that he’ll ever be a good enough player who can thrive in a top six capacity.

Bryan Murray actively sought a first round pick in any deal, and in settling for a second round pick, he failed to meet this objective. Even though this acquisition gives the Senators two second round picks and a first in the 2015 NHL Draft and should supply the Senators with ample ammunition to move up in next year’s draft, it should not be ignored that the Senators settled on this demand while taking on a bevy of Stars prospects who either lack upside or aren’t assured of fulfilling it.

Hopefully one or more of them do, I just wouldn’t bank on it.

Making matters worse, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch revealed that Jason Spezza’s trade request was not his first within the organization.

This meshes with rumours that the center first asked for a trade back in 2011, when the Senators first embraced and sold fans on the idea of a rebuild.

By refusing to include Spezza within the team’s rebuild plans that saw the organization jettison Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher and Chris Campoli, the Senators held onto Spezza and were more competitive than fans anticipated.

Even though it was obvious that the Daniel Alfredsson era was coming to a close and that at 31-years of age and the risk of diminishing returns and as someone with a history of back problems, it never really made sense to extend Spezza beyond his current contract, the Senators held onto its most productive veterans for the sake of trying to be a competitive club.

To their credit, the Senators were relatively competitive and even won an exciting playoff round thanks to the performance and health of Carey Price, but this success was short-lived.

In trading Spezza today, the Senators are no further ahead than they were in 2011 and by refusing to accommodate his requests back years ago when he had more term left on his deal and was coming off his 2011/12 season, the Senators got less value for him today than they would have years ago.

Had they bitten the bullet and been patient with a rebuild that the fan base embraced and been more inclined to tolerate some losing seasons and some short-term pain, perhaps the Senators would be further ahead than they are today.

The Senators painted themselves into this corner and have no one to blame for it but themselves.

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