Yes, you're reading that correctly. Less than 24 hours after Senators owner Eugene Melnyk professed to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman that the Senators were “definitely not sellers”, the Senators have now been linked to rumours that they are exploring the trade market for their captain, Jason Spezza.
Now just because Spezza’s name has been floated out there into the ether doesn’t mean that any deal is imminent.
For those of you who have frequented this blog over the years, you’ve probably seen one of the many pieces outlining concerns about his health, age, impending unrestricted free agent status, his play at even strength this season and the likelihood of diminished production moving forward.
Without getting into it too much now, they are legitimate concerns that fuel my skepticism that the benefits of a prospective contract extension for Spezza are simply outweighed by its involved risks. And as such, Spezza probably affords the Senators more value in a trade than he does by remaining in a Senators jersey.
So gauging the market now and doing the legwork with an eye at possibly making a deal in the summertime makes sense. And frankly, if Bryan Murray wasn’t exploring Spezza’s market, he wouldn’t be doing his job. It is due diligence more than anything else or potentially, it could also signal that the organization has broached the topic of the extension with Spezza (note: they can talk, but he cannot re-sign until the offseason) and didn’t like what they had to hear. Or maybe Spezza is the one who discretely asked management to explore a deal because he’s unhappy with his lacklustre performance and the constant juggling of linemates?
Who the hell knows?
Regardless, if it’s true that the organization is interested in shaking things up, it’s a positive sign. Complacency has plagued this organization before (ie. holding onto veterans like Milan Michalek or Colin Greening past their market value peak) and if we’re really being honest, this current roster composition simply has not done enough to warrant keeping it together.
It’d be refreshing to see this organization take some chances and make proactive moves – not unlike the one that netted the organization Kyle Turris – that augment this team’s young core and gives the organization the biggest opportunity or window to contend.
What Is the Return On Spezza?
For whatever reason, The Fourth Period, believes that the Senators would be looking to acquire “a young, NHL-proven center as part of a package.” But with Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Zack Smith and prospects like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Derek Grant in the system, it’s not like the organization is bereft of “young centers”.
Update: 4:40 pm
Speaking at a media availability from the team's hotel in Vancouver, Bryan Murray addressed the rumours that the team was exploring Spezza's value on the market.
From James Gordon's transcript:
“I think the thing that really bothers me — I’ve got all kinds of calls and texts and questions on that now — some guy that I don’t know, put it out on Twitter that we’re shopping Jason Spezza, and everybody in the world now, every other media guy, grabs that and goes … I had one guy ask me if I wanted to comment to quiet the rumours, I said no. I’m not going to … the more I say about it, the more it’s going to be played over and over the next couple days, so I’ll just say that we have not talked, at this point in time, about Jason Spezza.”
Drawing into question the veracity of the rumours by shitting on Dave Pagnotta's reputation is one thing, but it completely misses the mark when a more well respected insider in Darren Dreger corroborated those same rumours.
Dreger himself even responded to Murray's quip by tweeting:
It's tough to sort the bullshit from the truth at a time of year when it's easy to blame NHL insiders for throwing stuff out there and creating clickbaiting articles (hello, ad revenue) or help drive television ratings for their NHL trade deadline shows.
Mind you, it's not like general managers or other front office executives don't bend the truth to spin things and put themselves or their organization in a better light either.
Whatever the case, don't expect this speculation to die down over the next few months...