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Bob McKenzie Talks NHL Rumour Mill: Thornton and Spezza

In an appearance on TSN 1050’s The Drive with Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons this afternoon, Bob McKenzie touched upon the NHL’s rumour mill and casually dropped a few Jason Spezza references.

MacKenzie’s comments on NHL trade rumours begin at approximately the 3:30 mark.

As always, my thoughts will be in bold.

On the emergence of a report that Todd McLellan and Doug Wilson have discussed a scenario in which they strip Joe Thornton of the captaincy.

“Well I think they’re going to trade him anyway or at least explore that option. Stripping him of the ‘C’, I’m not sure what that accomplishes, but that’s fine if they want to go in that direction and make Logan Couture or Joe Pavelski or whomever – one of the younger centers. Joe’s the amiable sort for the most part, but he’s also a proud guy and I’m sure he wouldn’t be thrilled to lose the captaincy. He’s got, I believe, a no-move clause with his contract extension and that and yet, I believe that the San Jose Sharks need to make some tangible changes and the tangible changes they’re more likely to make involve a Joe Thornton and/or a Patrick Marleau than a Joe Pavelski or a Logan Couture. I just think that’s common sense, so I won’t be the least bit surprised if this is a summer of, amongst others, Jason Spezza is going to be on the move from Ottawa and I think Joe Thornton is a possibility – bearing in mind of course, that whether he has got a no-trade or a no-move clause, whatever it is, he calls the shots ultimately and he’ll have to decide on that. Again, as far as the captaincy, if you want to make real tangible change, just trade the captain. You don’t have to take the ‘C’ off of him.”

With Paul Statsny and Ryan Kesler already being bandied about, you can’t help but wonder what the inclusion of a Joe Thornton will do the market for centers. Thornton’s age (35), cap hit ($6.75 million per year through the 2016/17 season) and movement clauses could restrict his market, but there is no denying the fact that he’s still a very productive player. 

In 82 games last season, he only tallied 11 goals, but he did have 65 assists to trail only Sidney Crosby’s league leading 68. So regardless of what you think of Thornton’s goal scoring abilities, it’s hard to dismiss a player who’s producing at near a point-per-game clip.

On whether he expects it to be very busy between now and the start of free agency…

“Well as I’ve said, I think Jason Spezza’s available and I think Joe Thornton will ultimately become available if he’s not already. I think there are probably a lot of teams looking at a lot of different options. I think too that we’ve got a lot of … you see the general managers under the gun, you see some new general managers, the situation in Vancouver we’ve got to try to get a handle on. Is Ryan Kesler staying or is he going? So there is the potential for some really significant names out there to be in play for trade. I think the closer we get to the Stanley Cup final being over and the closer we get to the draft, the more all that stuff takes center stage. So, I would anticipate the next three or four weeks are going to be extremely busy, if for no other reason, on the rumour front and we’ll see what, if anything, tangible might happen by the draft or before free agency, but I’ve got to think there’s going to be some significant names in play and on the move.”

It was intriguing to hear MacKenzie speak absolutely about Spezza being on the move at first, but as you can see above, he simply referred to Spezza being “available”. 

It is exciting to hear that the next few weeks leading up to the NHL Draft are going to be crazy for rumours, especially after this lull in Sens news. 

To quote Eugene Melnyk, “buckle up”.