The first day of the NHL Draft surprisingly passed without the Ottawa Senators trading disgruntled center Jason Spezza. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, though, as CBS Sports reports that the Senators and Nashville Predators agreed to a deal before Spezza vetoed it with his no-trade clause.
That news comes straight from Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray, who told reporters at the draft that Spezza wouldn’t waive his clause to go to Nashville. The Predators’ GM, David Poile, reportedly confirmed that the team was interested before being informed that Spezza wouldn’t have any of it.
It’s an unfortunate development for Murray, who has tried hard to appease Spezza’s trade demand while still getting a solid return. That’s not easy when the player is wielding a no-trade clause, and it’s even harder when he’s actually using it to block deals.
So Ottawa doesn’t really have many options from here, particularly with the first day of the draft out of the way. Early draft picks were likely important to most of the team’s trade talks regarding Spezza, and now the Senators will need to re-calibrate or move in a different direction. Keeping Spezza, for the most part, doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility.
A lot of teams could use a high-level center like Spezza, but with a cap hit of $7 million annually, many would struggle to find room in the payroll. While Nashville was clearly one, those options will also dwindle as the offseason progresses and teams look elsewhere. If the Senators deal Spezza, which seems likely, it will still need to happen soon.
Spezza, 30, recorded 23 goals and 66 points in 75 games with Ottawa last season. The team hasn’t been as successful, failing to reach the second round of the playoffs since a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. During that postseason run, Spezza led all players in assists and points.