Jason Spezza rumours are here to stay.
As Sens fans, we have been exposed to them before, but it’s clear this time they have significantly more momentum. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire as they say and in the case of Spezza, it’s gettin’ real smoky. I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on it but based on the talk I’m hearing right now, I would be shocked if Spezza started next season in Ottawa. And while Spezza’s fate seems inevitable at this point, where he ends up and what comes back Ottawa’s way remains very much in question.
St. Louis. Anaheim. Colorado. Nashville. Phoenix. Los Angeles. Minnesota. Calgary. Edmonton. Florida. Toronto. Every one of these teams has been connected to the Spezza rumour mill at some point. Teams are lining up and that’s a good sign for Senators General Manager Bryan Murray.
Of that group, it seems like St. Louis has to be considered the “front-runner”, if there even is one this early in the process. I can confirm the two teams have at least discussed the possibility of a deal again this off season but to say it has gone any further than that would be exaggerating things a little bit. With a month to go till the Entry Draft, a lot can and will change.
With that said, it’s worth taking a closer look at the St. Louis roster to see who might be available. The belief is Murray has set the bar at a young roster player, a prospect and a first round pick. Murray may be aiming a little high with that package but at this stage in the process, he should be. So let’s look at some of the options as far as a “young roster player” goes.
The name that seems to come up most often is Patrick Berglund. The 25 year old Swede is a restricted free agent; coming off a one year, $3.25 million dollar deal. He had 32 points last year, regularly playing more than 15 minutes a night for a strong St. Louis team. He’s a solid player that could provide some insulation for Mika Zibanejad as a second/third line centre. Berglund’s name has come up in other rumours this summer. He is certainly available. You’ll also hear the names of Jaden Schwartz or Vladimir Tarasenko but those are pipe dreams right now. Same goes for TJ Oshie.
If the Senators decide that they would like the centre piece of the deal to be a defenceman, Kevin Shattenkirk is a possible target. He has three years left on his deal at $4.25 mil a season and would be a huge boost to Ottawa’s top four. Shattenkirk had 45 points last year, averaging more than 20 minutes a night for the defensively stingy Blues. He can skate. He can move the puck. And he’s a right handed shot. All things Ottawa could use.
If Ottawa and St. Louis enter serious discussions, he would be the guy I go after.
When it comes to prospects, the Blues have lots of ‘em. The three that seem to come up the most often so far include Dmitri Jaskin- a 21 year old, 6’3 right winger and 2nd round pick that scored 15 goals in the AHL last year and played 18 games with the Blues, Ty Rattie- a 6’0 RW and 2nd round pick that scored 31 goals in the AHL and Tommy Vannelli- an American-born defenceman that had 41 points in 60 games with the Medicine Tigers in the WHL last year.
No real high end guys but all solid options that can add to Ottawa’s prospect depth. St. Louis also has the 21st selection in this year’s Entry Draft, which would probably be of interest to the Senators although this isn’t considered to be a very deep draft. If Ottawa can build a deal around one of those two young players (Berglund or Shattenkirk), one of those prospects (Jaskin, Rattie, Vannelli) and that first round pick, it’s a pretty solid trade from Ottawa’s perspective.
Now of course it’s all going to come down to leverage and more importantly, the number of teams with serious interest. If the Blues are committed to making this deal, and teams like Nashville, Anaheim and Phoenix are making serious offers, then Murray can start to seriously ask about guys like Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Fingers crossed for a summer bidding war, Sens fans.