It seemed like it was a matter of when not if the Toronto Maple Leafs would bring back Jason Spezza and the team made it official signing the veteran to a one-year, $750,000 contract extension.
Fortunately for Spezza, he gets a $50,000 pay raise with the minimum contract with the CBA negotiated pay increase. Getting him signed now also makes him eligible for the expansion draft and it would seem unlikely that he gets picked up by the Seattle Kraken if the Leafs decide to protect seven forwards.
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There were very few players who impressed during the Leafs’ first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens and Jason Spezza was one of them. He was second on the team with three goals in seven games after potting 10 goals and 30 points in 54 games this season.
Since joining the Leafs, Spezza has been a fan favourite for the leadership role he’s played while finding ways to produce in a reduced role. He’s also made it clear that he only has one goal in mind with the Leafs.
"“I know where the team’s at with the cap and everything. And I’ll be honest, all I care about is playing on a good team and just trying to win. So if I could take less I would,” Spezza told reporters.“You know, I love playing the game. I love competing. The chase of a Cup is at the forefront of my mind, you know, daily. And anything I can do to kind of help the team acquire better players, that’s kind of why I just take the league minimum and want to move forward.”"
This is the type of mentality that more players on the Leafs need to adopt considering how much of a struggle it was for certain players to get in the right mindset to close out a series that they had a 3-1 lead.
What Toronto will need to find is more bargain players or potentially look at the Toronto Marlies to see if they can elevate the lower part of the lineup. It’s also no secret that the top six could get a bit of a shakeup depending on what happens with pending free agent Zach Hyman.
Seeing how the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have played out since Toronto was eliminated shows that the Leafs aren’t just one player away from getting the job done. That’s why getting Spezza at the right number ticks one thing off the Leafs’ shopping list this off-season.
What are your thoughts on Spezza returning with the Leafs? Who else should the team make a priority? Let us know in the comments below.