Senators and Spezza Parting Ways?

Fresh of the Bob Mackenzie of TSN wire, the Ottawa Senators and Jason Spezza have had some heart to heart conversations. Out of that has come an understanding, that in the right situation, the Sens would be fine moving forward without Spezza and Jason Spezza would be ok to start over elsewhere.

Spezza feels a fresh start where fans haven't soured on him might be alright. The Sens might like a new look after missing the playoffs.

Before people get too carried away, let's take a look at whether or not Edmonton is even an option and if the many rumors about to hit the fan are realistic.

Here is what we know from the perspective of the Oilers. Edmonton is clearly rebuilding. They are not interested in adding pieces to their roster that are not part of that rebuild. Spezza has five years remaining on his contract. One that will see the first line center receive $7 million per season.

That works in terms of a time frame sure. Even more, the Oilers like Spezza. But, and this is a big butt, the money is huge and would be a lot to take on for a team constructing a rebuild. A Spezza trade wouldn't come without Ottawa taking money back. The Senators know it and the Oilers would have to do it to the tunes of names like Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray or Dustin Penner plus.

from previous rumors/reports, we know that Spezza is liked by management in Edmonton and has been the topic of more than one inquiry from the Oilers side. Until now, the Sens have always just stated Spezza is not up for trade. After the Sens and Spezza have some more time to see if this relationship can or cannot be mended, all of that may change things.

We also know, that the Sens and Oilers have pieces each team has respective interest in. All the elements of the Dany Heatley trade that never happened are still in Edmonton and there is no reason to assume that Ottawa doesn't still like Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Smid (especially Penner after his breakout season).

The Sens may also need a big name defenseman since Volchenkov is about 90% out the door. The Oilers have one they're actively shopping.

We've also heard - and this is the part I find most interesting - that Ottawa is not opposed to adding someone like Shawn Horcoff. Horcs wouldn't be enough by any stretch on his own to get this deal done and his salary plus that of Penner or Souray, means this trade would need to be bigger than just Spezza; however adding perhaps Cogliano and the 31st overall pick in this years draft, might start the conversation.

Horcoff would give Ottawa a stop-gap and reliable top two line center in the place of Spezza and while Horcoff is a cap burden here, would help shave off some of Spezza's $7 cap hit in Ottawa. If the Sens will take on Cheechoo and bury his $3 million in the minors, we can't dismiss that they'd consider a $5.5 million dollar player who can actually still produce results.

Here's the kicker. The Oilers aren't necessarily in agreement with most Oiler fans that moving Horcoff is the best thing for Edmonton. They like what Horcoff brings to the team and strongly feel he has the ability to turn around his poor play, becoming a consistent 50-65 point player. Those numbers understandably would make Horcoff a better deal than he currently is at $5.5 million per year.

Realistically however, any conversation between Edmonton and Ottawa will start with Dustin Penner and end if the Senators ask for the #1 overall pick. The Sens like Penner, the Oilers will not lose their right to one of the top two picks in this years draft.

Would you do it? Consider a bad year for Spezza is 57 points in 60 games played, that being his lowest totals oustide of a 73 point in 82 game season in 2008. Three times in the last five years, Spezza has eclipsed the 87 point mark, often in less than a full schedule (which lends itself to the argument Spezza has a tendancy to get injured).

At 27 years of age Spezza is a $7 million cap hit. He's still going to be a strong player for the next five years of his contract and definitely part of the Oilers when they start to see some success.

Should they be able to pick up a player like Spezza before the draft, they could do so and their first line might eventually look like Hemsky/Spezza/Hall which would be a scary first line option.

The Oilers would likely have to give up Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano plus a draft pick to get Spezza. With Penner's breakout season, is that too much for a $7 million dollar player? Could the Oilers keep Cogs but include Nilsson? I doubt it, but it might be worth asking.

Even more food for thought? At one point Ottawa wanted Ladislav Smid. What if they could have Sheldon Souray, who is definitely an upgrade. Yes a more costly one, but a player with a name that might be important to Ottawa is you're trading one star for another.

If the Sens will give Heatley and a 5th rounder for Cheechoo, Michalek and a 2nd rounder, perhaps Penner, Nilsson and a 2nd isn't too little. Maybe Souray, Cogliano a 2nd and a 5th rounder for Spezza and a 6th rounder?

The big question if you're Oilers management? Is Spezza something that you consider a piece of a successful rebuild? If you can't immediately say yes to that question, there is no reason to even call the Senators.


A first line of Hemsky, Spezza, Hall ? Wow, that's all I can say

Sly Holla
June 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM comment-delete

If the trade consisted of Penner, Cogliano and a 2nd round pick, that would still give the Oilers some fire power on other lines too.


Requires that the Oilers sign Comrie, Potulny, Pouliot and Pisani to low end contracts, but very doable and more likely with a higher contract in Spezza. Some of these lower contract names could also be filled by other transitional free agent contracts if not these players specifically. I've assumed Gagner and Brule will get new deals.

This even gives more room for a player like Eberle to spend time in the AHL.

I still would consider Spezza a less than 5% reality if at all, but the more I look at it, the more I like the idea.

June 3, 2010 at 9:09 PM comment-delete

If Spezza is coming here, they need to deal Horcoff the other way just to make sure they don't get caught paying too much down the middle. It's hurt Pittsburg, and they're looking at Crosby, Malkin and Staal as their centers, not Spezza, Gagner and Horcoff. Especially with, long-term, potential high impact wingers like Paajarvi, Eberle and Hall looking for contracts before Spezza's and Horcoff's respective contracts expire.

I actually like Horcoff, but you can't invest heavily in a number one center unless you deal Horcoff in the process.

June 4, 2010 at 1:45 PM comment-delete

The Sens from what I'm hearing love Ladislav Smid. I did some digging and from what I found, he was a huge inclusion for Ottawa in the Heatley trade.

If Horcoff was included, my guess, it would have to be Horcoff, Smid and the 31st overall pick in this years draft.

I'd do it, but Smid is a steep price to pay. I truly feel regardless of who the Oilers might trade for or sign, Smid is the #3 d-man and a huge peice of Edmonton's future.

June 4, 2010 at 2:02 PM comment-delete

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