The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Wednesday that they have signed center Jason Spezza to a one-year, $750,000 contract extension. The 38-year-old had 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 54 regular season games with the Maple Leafs last season, and five points (3 goals, 2 assists) in seven playoff games.
Spezza and Leafs GM Kyle Dubas mutually expressed interest in signing another one year deal to stay in Toronto when talking with the media last month and the deal makes sense for both sides. Spezza has thrived in his limited role with Toronto and has made it clear that he wants to finish off hie career with the Leafs. Dubas may have had trouble with the minimum games played qualifications for forwards in the Seattle expansion draft after signing so many players to one-year deals.
Signing Spezza and exposing him to Seattle, with the Kraken unlikely to take a 38-year-old who threatened to retire if claimed off waivers last season makes a lot of sense.
Moves made in the off-season are always a series of contingencies. If this happens, what do we do then. Every team faces those scenarios and that is where the Toronto Maple Leafs are with pending unrestricted free agent winger Zach Hyman.
James Mirtle in the Athletic on Wednesday believes that Hyman may have priced himself out in Toronto after consecutive 21 goal seasons and 33 points in 43 games last season. The buzz around the league is that the feisty 29-year-old winger could get as much as $6 million per year on a new deal, but that could simply be a concerted campaign from his representatives to maximize his value and get the best deal and other clubs using the Toronto media to drive the price up on the Leafs.
If the chatter of Hyman’s value around the league is even close to being true, than Toronto will not be able to re-sign the Toronto native even if his ask is $5 – 5.5 million unless they come off their stance of not moving a core four piece like William Nylander.
What is Dubas’ contingency plan? Mirtle suggests UFA Mikael Granlund, who the Leafs were interested in signing before re-upping with Nashville for $3.75 million for one year. Toronto was rumored to be looking at Granlund before the Preds rallied to stay in the playoff race and after posting a pro-rated 43-point season, the 29-year-old Finn will likely be in line for getting a comparable AAV for 2021-22.
A more plausible option could be Nick Foligno, who was injured just after being acquired from Columbus for a pair of draft picks, but still managed four assists in seven regular season games. According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun , Foligno wants to stay with the Leafs after spending nine seasons in Columbus.
It would have to be for considerably less than the $5.5 million per season he made on the six-year deal with the Blue Jackets, but Foligno likely recognizes that going back to Columbus means not having a chance at winning a championship in the last few years of his career.
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