Reports the Toronto Maple Leafs could trade Dion Phaneuf dominate the rumor mill this week, but he's not the only captain of a Canadian club who could be on the move this summer.
Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos recently cited sources claiming the Ottawa Senators were shopping Jason Spezza, who has one season left on his contract at a cap hit of $7 million, though he'll earn $4 million in actual salary. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch wasn't surprised to hear Spezza's on the market, claiming GM Bryan Murray's been speaking with suitors.
Garrioch believes the Senators will likely move Spezza before next month's NHL draft in Philadelphia. He notes the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks expressed interest in the Ottawa captain leading up to the March trade deadline.
Given the Blues early playoff exist, Garrioch thinks they could be most willing to make a deal, speculating they'll likely offer center Patrik Berglund and perhaps prospect Ty Rattie. If the Ducks revisit their interest, he feels they could offer up left winger Emerson Etem and recommends the Senators try to acquire right winger Devante Smith-Pelly as part of the deal.
Garrioch also believes the New York Rangers could be interested, though he doesn't see how Spezza fits into their limited cap space as he doesn't expect them to buy out center Brad Richards. He also adds the Florida Panthers to the list of potential suitors.
The Blues might part with Berglund, but could be unwilling to move Rattie. Smith-Pelly's strong performance in this year's playoffs is a good reason for the Ducks to retain him. Even if the Rangers buy out Richards, they couldn't afford to add Spezza and still re-sign key free agents like Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Anton Stralman, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore.
The Edmonton Journal's David Staples also noted Spezza and Phaneuf surfacing in the rumor mill. He considers them good, but not great, players who could help the rebuilding Oilers in the short term, but doesn't see them as long-term solutions to their problems.
Several factors will affect a possible Spezza trade, with his contract status topping the list. Interested clubs could be leery of giving up too much for a center that might depart next summer via free agency. They could seek permission to speak with Spezza's agent about a contract extension before finalizing any trade.
Spezza's limited no-trade clause could also hamper efforts to move him. CapGeek.com reports he submits an annual list of ten teams to which he won't accept a trade. That could rule out rebuilding clubs like the Oilers and Panthers. His long injury history, which includes back and knee ailments, could also dampen his trade value. Finally, there's the asking price, which Garrioch claims is a player who can help the Senators now, plus a prospect and a first-round pick.
That's not to suggest there won't be interest in Spezza this summer, but considering the aforementioned factors the Senators could find him difficult to move.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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