Here’s the thing about the current situation…
- It’s created a lot of free time to negotiate re-signing players.
- It’s created a lot of uncertainty about what should be done with free agents, especially some of the older ones.
That’s partially why it is both surprising and equally unsurprising that there haven’t been any discussions with Jason Spezza.
Jason Spezza tells @DavidAmber on-air that contract extension talks have not begun with Leafs. “I’d love to be back here again next year.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) April 1, 2020
Spezza has had a nice bounce back year with 25 points in 58 games, definite step up from 27 in 76 last year and his 26 in 78 the year before. He was also accomplishing this with around 2 minutes less ice time per game than he was getting in Dallas. He has proven value as a bottom six piece to be slotted in where needed and can still provide tertiary scoring. He’s veteran presence and the Leafs have benefited from his experience, and at league minimum, he was good fit. Assuming he’ll take league minimum again, I don’t see why you wouldn’t bring him back.
That being said, Spezza has exceeded his past two years performance and could very well see himself as someone wanting more than league minimum. The Leafs have backed themselves into a tidy little corner and paying more than the minimum isn’t an easy thing for them. And there are risks with increasing the cap hit, and especially if the ask is cap hit with term more than one year.
There is also the fact that a soon to be 37 year old is going to be off ice for the foreseeable future and the impacts on not playing hockey might be very different for him than some up the younger Leafs. Spezza can’t afford to lose a step.
For Spezza, there is little doubt that both a cup and that attainable 1000 point mark are things he’s considering before he walks away from the game, and I hope he gets a chance to achieve them, and it would be great to see both as a Leaf, but the main questions remain.
- Spezza has played well enough to earn a raise, are the Leafs comfortable giving it to him?
- What happens when he loses a step?
Given the fact that there isn’t an immediate rush to get something done today, it’s probably not a surprise the Leafs are playing the waiting game.