With the NHL draft looming and the hockey world humming with trade talk, Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators can be added to the list of players who may soon have new addresses.
Though the Senators would clearly prefer to retain the stylish centre's services, general manager Bryan Murray confirmed weeks of speculation on Monday, saying that Spezza is open to trade discussions. "He said he wouldn't object to one, he didn't come in and say 'I have to be traded.' He didn't object to, 'Maybe it's time,'" Murray said.
The GM added that, "We will look at everything that will help our hockey team, but I'm not going to make a bad trade."
The speculation surrounding Spezza's future in Ottawa has been fuelled by the fans' ire at the Sens' first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins - Spezza, who had one goal and six assists, bore the brunt.
"The impression I got is that he was unhappy at the end of the year - No. 1 that we didn't win, No. 2 that the response to him [from fans]wasn't very positive," Murray said.
Spezza's contract contains a no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1, so it's likely a deal would have to be concluded before then. In a free-agent market thin in centre-ice players, there may well be demand for his services
But the 27-year-old Toronto native, who was Ottawa's top centre last season, is under contract until the 2014-15 season, and his salary cap hit is $7-million (U.S.) annually, which narrows the number of teams who could take him on considerably.
It's also clear that if Spezza does indeed want out of Ottawa, he's going about it in a much different way than his friend and former teammate Dany Heatley, who agitated for a move last summer and then turned down a deal that would have sent him to the Edmonton Oilers. He was eventually dealt to the San Jose Sharks.
Murray said he has no concerns about finding himself with a disgruntled player if no appropriate deal (one that "I can't refuse") materializes.
"I think it's a different person. … I see a guy that at the end of the year was not as happy as we'd like him to be, but that's life, that's the NHL," Murray said.