For all the rumours, speculation and even the first domino falling – when Ryan Kesler, thought to be the major impediment to the trade market, was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks – Jason Spezza is still a member of the Ottawa Senators.
In a somewhat surprising development, the Senators were unable to negotiate a fair trade with a team that wasn’t on Spezza’s list of ten teams that he could not be traded to.
They did reportedly come close to reaching an agreement with the Nashville Predators, but Predators general manager David Poile was informed by Spezza’s representative Rick Curran, that Spezza was not interested in waiving his NTC for Nashville.
“I’ve talked to Bryan about Jason, and I was told by [Spezza] and his agent that he didn’t want to come here, and that was confirmed by Bryan,” said Predators GM David Poile.
Spezza will assuredly catch some flak for refusing to waive his NTC, but in fairness to him, he negotiated that right to invoke his NTC for this specific situation. You can’t blame the player for refusing to go to a place where he obviously does not want to go through a clause that the organization willingly gave to him.
Hearing David Poile excoriate Spezza for his unwillingness to waive his NTC, is pretty classless.
From Puck Daddy:
“I don’t get it. When you talk about winning and losing, I know you want to go to a team to win a Cup, but we’re as committed as anybody. Who knows, maybe we’re closer than anybody thinks.
“You have to sell your team all the time. But there are teams that are national TV or major markets. I get that. But what we have on the ice, what we have off the ice, no state taxes. There’s a lot of advantage to playing in Nashville. But you can ask Peter Forsberg what he thought about Nashville, or Paul Kariya, just to drop a few names of players who might be going to the Hall of Fame. But I get it. That’s the way the world is right now. There’s a lot of entitlement.”
Playing on a line with James Neal and setting up Shea Weber blasts on the power play could be pretty fun for a season and allow Spezza to rebuild his reputation somewhat before hitting UFA where he could handpick his next destination, but if he doesn’t want to go, you can’t force him to.
For Poile to comment on Spezza’s sense entitlement is ridiculous. He’s not a member of your organization, so keep shut up and stay out of it.
At the same time, you can’t blame Murray for steadfastly holding out for a better deal. It’s pretty clear that the best available offer came from Nashville and despite the reported interest from teams like Anaheim and St. Louis, if those teams aren’t willing to meet Ottawa’s asking price, Murray has to be vigilant.
Andy Strickland has conceded that St. Louis is Spezza’s preferred choice of destination, but by playing hardball and refusing to waver on his demands, the hope for Murray is that the Blues will either pony up in an offer or move on to another potential solution at center (ie. Paul Stastny).
Conversely, Spezza can act similarly to how Dany Heatley handled his trade request, refusing to waive his NTC (ie. like Heatley did with Edmonton) knowing that he wants to go to a contender like the Blues.
The problem for Bryan Murray is that he knows he can’t bring back a captain who has asked to be dealt, and have his uncertain future lingering over the team and serving as a distraction. There’s also the additional risk that Spezza could get hurt next season or that the Senators could vie for a playoff spot, making it unlikely that they trade him at all. And judging by the returns that teams fetched at last season’s deadline, the bar is set low.
It’s essentially game of chicken in which both parties are looking out for their own self-interests and someone – the Senators, Spezza or the Blues — will have to cave.
The unfortunate part for the Senators is that with the conclusion of the 2014 Draft, the Senators were unable to add another young player to their coffers and with the vaunted 2015 draft class next season, teams are going to be more unwilling to move that pick than this season’s. The Senators may have to settle on a package involving prospects or something similar to what Vancouver received for Ryan Kessler.
I don’t expect the Senators to get full value in any Spezza deal since it’s obviously clear that he is more valuable to the organization than whatever they can fetch in a deal, but it’s agonizing to think that the Senators may wind up taking back a crappy return just to satiate the player’s request.