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Ranking the Best Landing Spots for Ottawa Senators Captain Jason Spezza

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIJune 12, 2014

Ranking the Best Landing Spots for Ottawa Senators Captain Jason Spezza

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When dealing with hockey rumors, fans are typically forced to rely on a small handful of insiders for their dose of drama and intrigue. Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray took all of the guesswork out of the shaky Jason Spezza situation by openly admitting that his captain had asked to be traded.

    Rumors had been swirling after TSN's Steve Warne Tweeted that the Senators had removed Spezza's image from advertising materials for the 2014-15 campaign. Now we know why.

    Murray spoke to reporters about the 30-year-old center following a round of offseason GM meetings, and Dan Rosen from NHL.com captured the following comments:

    I don't want to trade the guy, really, and I know I won't get the value, in all likelihood, that I should get for him. But I think that Jason feels maybe there's a change that he would like to have happen, and if that's the case we'll try to do what we can... It'll probably be another few weeks, at least, before anything comes down that might be a worthwhile trade [to talk] about.

    By going public with Spezza's trade demand, Murray only answered part of the riddle. Now that we know the high-end pivot won't be back in Ottawa, we move on and wonder where he'll be lacing up his skates come October.

    Worth keeping in mind is that this is a ranking of where Spezza would fit in. These are the best landing spots. Best isn't synonymous with most likely, but all five of these destinations make sense for all parties involved.

     

    All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted. All salary cap information appears courtesy of CapGeek.com.

5. Dallas Stars

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    Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

    Why He'd Be a Good Fit

    When Jim Nill took over as general manager of the Dallas Stars, he made it clear that he was going to build the team through center depth. It's a system that worked well for Nill's cohorts in Detroit, and he didn't hesitate to establish the same philosophy in Texas.

    He made a splash by acquiring Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley last year, but there's still a hole at the No. 2 center position. With an estimated $20 million (h/t DefendingBigD.com) to spend and a need for a second-line pivot, Spezza is precisely the kind of player Nill would love to add.

    Dallas surprised some pundits by making the playoffs this season, and adding an All-Star caliber forward to the mix could propel the franchise to a playoff round win for the first time since 2008.

     

    Effect on the Organizational Depth

    Seguin is snug on the top line, and he'll be Dallas' top center for the next decade. Since the Stars aren't quite sure if Peverley will be healthy enough to be a roster player next season, Spezza wouldn't be pushing anyone out of the way on the second line.

    Shawn Horcoff could thrive on a third line, giving the Stars an outstanding one-two-three punch at center.

     

    Potential Trade Chips

    Erik Cole, Alex Chiasson, Antoine Roussel (RFA rights), 2014 draft picks, Radek Faksa

4. New York Rangers

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    Scott Levy/Getty Images

    Why He'd Be a Good Fit

    Odds seem good that the New York Rangers are going to buyout Brad Richards over the summer. Sean Hartnett of CBS New York recently wrote that "[j]ettisoning Richards appears to be a no-brainer." That makes sense, as the veteran was replaced by Dominic Moore on New York's second line at the end of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    If the Rangers do bring in Spezza, it'll only be after ridding themselves of Richards and his $6.6 million cap hit. The current Senator would then slot in as the team's No. 2 center, lining up with Martin St. Louis and giving New York an excellent group of top-six forwards.

     

    Effect on the Organizational Depth

    Assuming the Rangers elect to bring Moore back into the fold, he'll drop back to the bottom-six, where he can be an effective depth scorer across an 82-game regular season. Richards would obviously be effected, but he'll probably be bought out regardless of what happens with Spezza.

     

    Potential Trade Chips

    Derick Brassard (RFA rights), Jesper Fast, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Danny Kristo, Boo Nieves

3. Washington Capitals

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Why He'd Be a Good Fit

    The Washington Capitals have long been in need of a lights out second-line center. Like the Stars and Rangers, the Capitals would be interested in acquiring Spezza to play behind an incumbent No. 1. Unlike New York and Dallas, Washington is currently in a state of turnover after George McPhee was mercifully released this summer.

    If "new" GM Brian MacLellan is looking to put his mark on the team, acquiring a (nearly) point-per-game No. 1 center is a good way to do it.

    Spezza is also a right-handed shot that can run the point on a power play. If the Capitals manage to make a swap with Ottawa, it'd be a case of one of the NHL's top units with the extra man getting richer.

     

    Effect on the Organizational Depth

    Washington hasn't decided whether or not to extend Mikhail Grabovski. If Spezza switches North American capital cities, it will likely push Grabovski out of the picture and into free agency. Incoming head coach Barry Trotz would suddenly have more high-end centers on one roster than he had in all his years in Nashville combined.

    Evgeny Kuznetsov can play wing or center, as can Marcus Johansson. If Stanley Cups are won via forward depth, then Spezza could be the missing piece in Washington.

     

    Potential Trade Chips

    Mike Green, Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, Chris Brown, Madison Bowey

2. Nashville Predators

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    John Russell/Getty Images

    Why He'd Be a Good Fit

    While the Capitals have been after a steady second-line center for a few seasons, the Nashville Predators have been looking for more offense for what seems like forever. The team's defense-first mentality has become part of the franchise's DNA.

    Now that Trotz is in Washington, general manager David Poile will be looking to add goals in any way possible. The Predators were 19th in goals scored per game in 2013-14. If Spezza isn't interested in playing second fiddle to any other center, Nashville is his best fit. The offense would run through him in all situations in Music City.

     

    Effect on the Organizational Depth

    The Predators are stacked on the blue line, as the team has been building from the net out since joining the league in 1998. They've never pieced together a club that was feared for offensive prowess, and Spezza would automatically become one of the most talented forwards in franchise history.

    Mike Fisher would be bumped to the second line, while Matt Cullen would likely end up on the third unit. With Spezza in the lineup, the Predators go from a below-average team at center to a hair above average.

    And who wouldn't love to see a Spezza-Fisher throwback?

     

    Potential Trade Chips

    2014 draft picks, Craig Smith, Filip Forsberg, Magnus Hellberg, Austin Watson

1. St. Louis Blues

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    Mark Buckner/Getty Images

    Why He'd Be A Good Fit

    The Spezza-to-St. Louis Blues connection has been going on since last May, when Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest tweeted that the Gateway to the West was high up on the disgruntled Senators' list of teams he'd like to play for.

    As it just so happens, the Blues are in desperate need of more firepower at forward—a fact that was brought to light in the first round of the playoffs as the Chicago Blackhawks' depth caused issues for St. Louis and its perpetual Stanley Cup dream.

    If Spezza's goal is to win a championship, the Blues give him that chance. David Backes already has the No. 1 center spot locked up, but that line typically plays a more defensive role. Spezza could slot in on the second line and give the Blues a much improved secondary scoring line.

     

    Effect on the Organizational Depth

    Derek Roy never really fit in with Ken Hitchcock's systems, and he won't be brought back unless he takes a monster pay cut to play as a true depth forward. He can get more money elsewhere, so that frees up $4 million worth of space.

    Tack on Brenden Morrow's expiring $1.5 million hit, and there's plenty of room to get Spezza in under the cap without threatening the future of any player on the roster, regardless of age. Morrow and Roy are solid veterans, but they didn't get it done for the Blues this year.

     

    Potential Trade Chips

    Patrik Berglund (RFA rights or sign-and-trade), Magnus Paajarvi, Roman Polak, Max Gardiner, Kevin Shattenkirk

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