It’s 31 Thoughts time, and with that comes a little bit of Leafs news…
Jason Spezza does not view these final five weeks (plus potential playoffs) as the end of his career. He says there have been no contract talks with Toronto, but he wants to play again next season.
So that’s something. We know that Jason Spezza wants to be in the league next year, but nothing as of yet on whether that will be with the Leafs. That gives us a fair bit to explore.
First, there is the fact that Jason Spezza has shown very clearly he’s better than a league minimum player and I’m not sure the Leafs would be fortunate enough to get him at a completely bargain basement price again. The fact that they are saying that contract talks haven’t started yet probably points to Jason Spezza wanting more than $700k next year, and this year a chance to play on a contending team, in his hometown, and to show the league that he still has hockey left in him.
Secondly, there is hockey left in Jason Spezza…
Spezza’s offensive outputs are his best numbers in the past three years. The catch to that being he’s a 10-11 minute a night player now, and his usage is heavily controlled. Even when Spezza has crept up the line and taken on 3rd line center responsibilities, it’s been in controlled situations. On the other hand, he’s a pretty good offensive bottom six option, and of course there’s his intangible.
Spezza as an older veteran presence on the team has likely been beneficial. The amount of changes and adversity the team has faced this year is probably been made a bit easier by having a guy who has seen and lived most things the NHL can throw at him.
So what would put an end to this relationship, well… I guess if Spezza’s contract ask is multiple years or anything that would exceed $1M. While he’s produced some sheltered offense and been good for the team, there’s still a matter of every new year being a roll of the dice.
There’s also the potential that the Leafs may be considering Joe Thornton next year, and would having Thornton and Spezza be excessive? Probably not, but who knows who else the Leafs are looking at and what plans Toronto has for Korshkov and Agostino, who could be bottom six options next year that Dubas might not want to block with veterans.
Personally, I like Spezza. I hope he sticks around. He’s fun, he’s still capable of riding shotgun in the bottom, and nothing would piss off Sens fans like having him winning a cup in Toronto. As for what would make me not want Spezza in Toronto, well, it’s all about the money.