All it took was a quick glance at the 2015 free-agent center options, and suddenly that money didn’t look so bad.
The free-agent market seems to get thinner each year, making signing your current players a smart priority. That’s one reason why Spezza likely isn’t the last to get a deal done here in the next month or so.
“You’re going to see teams try to get deals done. There might be more of an urgency to get deals done,” said one agent with a couple of high-end players in contract years. “The cap isn’t going to go up significantly, so the prominent guys are being locked in.”
Spezza would have been one of the top three players available. What does the UFA list look like without him? Here’s an early look at the Top 20, with updates on where some of negotiations currently stand:
The Rangers were St. Louis’ preferred destination when he was leaving Tampa Bay, so there’s no reason to believe he’s going anywhere. He’s been a great fit with the Rangers, was their spiritual leader during their trip to the Stanley Cup finals and has 17 points through 20 games so far this season. At 39, he might be at the point where he’s willing to do one-year deals that come with bonuses that can be rolled over.
HANSEN, TATAR AND BENN NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Nov. 24, 2014) – Vancouver Canucks right wing Jannik Hansen, Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar and Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Nov. 23.
FIRST STAR – JANNIK HANSEN, RW, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Hansen led the NHL with five goals, converting on 71.4% of his shots (5-of-7) to power the Canucks (14-6-1, 29 points) to five of a possible six standings points. He recorded his fourth career shorthanded goal in a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers Nov. 19. Hansen then scored the game-tying goal for the Canucks in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks Nov. 20. He capped the week by posting his first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Nov. 23. The 28-year-old Herlev, Denmark, native has found the back of the net in three consecutive games for the third time in his career and first time since March 2-5, 2013 (3-2—5). His eight goals in 21 games rank second on the Canucks and are eight shy of his single-season high set in 2011-12 (82 GP).
SECOND STAR – TOMAS TATAR, LW, DETROIT RED WINGS
Tatar tied for second in the League with 4-1—5, including two game-winning goals, to lead the Red Wings (10-5-5, 25 points) to two victories in three starts. He opened the week with a pair of game-winning goals and multi-point performances: 1-1—2 in 5-0 triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets Nov. 18 and 2-0—2 in a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Nov. 20. Tatar then added his ninth goal of the season in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Nov. 22, stretching his point streak to a career-long five games (5-2—7). The 23-year-old Ilava, Slovakia, native has found the back of the net in three consecutive games for the second time in his NHL career (also Jan. 4-11, 2014: 3-1—4). He is tied for the team lead in goals this season and also is tied for fourth with 12 points (20 GP).
THIRD STAR – JAMIE BENN, LW, DALLAS STARS
Benn led the NHL with 3-3—6, including a pair of multi-point games, to propel the Stars (8-9-4, 20 points) to two wins in three outings. He posted 1-1—2 in a 6-4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Nov. 18 and then collected the secondary assist on Cody Eakin’s game-winning goal in a 3-1 comeback victory over the Arizona Coyotes Nov. 20. Benn capped the week with 2-1—3, his first multi-goal game and second three-point performance of the season (also Oct. 14 at CBJ: 1-3—4), in a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Kings Nov. 22. The 25-year-old Victoria, B.C., native ranks second on the Stars in goals (8), assists (11-tied) and points (19) this season (21 GP). He also has 42-56—98 in his last 102 appearances dating to the start of the 2013-14 campaign.
- Calgary Flames: Just call them the comeback kids. After erasing three two-goal deficits before edging the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in the shootout, Calgary has recorded four wins in the past five games to put itself within reach of the Pacific Division lead heading into this week. Calgary sits three points back of the Anaheim Ducks after Anaheim's 2-1 win over Arizona on Sunday. Captain Mark Giordano continues to shine, leading all NHL defensemen with 23 points.
- Los Angeles Kings’ cap situation: Finally, the Kings received some relief from the league after toiling for weeks in cap purgatory during the ongoing criminal proceedings against defenseman Slava Voynov, who has been suspended indefinitely since his domestic violence arrest last month. Voynov was charged with a felony count of corporal injury to his spouse this week. Though his $4.17 million cap hit was previously kept on the books, the Kings are now allowed to treat his salary as they would with a player on long-term injured reserve. This should prevent the Kings from having to play any additional games short-handed.
- Jason Demers: The former San Jose Shark, who was shipped to Dallas last week in a trade for defenseman Brenden Dillon, endeared himself to his new Stars teammates rather quickly. Demers rocked Kings forward Jarret Stoll in the open ice with a perfectly executed hip check, then went on to score what would hold up as the winning goal in his debut for Dallas during the Stars’ 5-4 win over the Kings on Saturday. Demers’ teammate Jamie Benn didn’t have a bad night, either, finishing with two goals and one assist in the Stars’ win over the defending Stanley Cup champs.
- Jannik Hansen: On a night when forward Daniel Sedin was honored for playing his 1,000th NHL game -- all with the Canucks -- the Danish forward notched his first NHL hat trick in Vancouver's 4-1 win against the Blackhawks. Hansen extended his goal streak to three games, bringing his total during that stretch to five goals overall.
- Dallas Eakins’ job security: Twitter was abuzz Sunday with speculation over whether Eakins would be the latest casualty of the Edmonton Oilers’ train wreck. Although star player Taylor Hall went to bat for his coach over the weekend, telling reporters it would be “so unfair” to give Eakins the ax, it’s hard to imagine he’ll survive the team’s current nose dive. The club has dropped six straight, most recently a humiliating 7-1 drubbing courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks. Dan Bylsma had better get his passport ready.
- San Jose Sharks: Eakins may not be the only coach on the chopping block out West, with the Sharks continuing to stumble and Todd McLellan’s seat growing hotter by the day. The Sharks surrendered their third straight in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout defeat to the Arizona Coyotes. That’s three losses to some of the weakest teams in the league; before Saturday’s loss, the Sharks had dropped games to the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers.
- St. Louis’ Jay Bouwmeester saw his ironman streak end Sunday when he missed the Blues’ game against the Winnipeg Jets with a lower-body injury. The veteran defenseman had played 737 consecutive games.
- It is not immediately clear whether Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis will require surgery, but he is expected to miss extended time after suffering a lower-body injury in Thursday’s game against Anaheim.
- Unrest in Edmonton: If Eakins does not get fired this week, one would imagine the Oilers may go the trade route to try to shake things up and provide the club with a much-needed jolt heading into this week’s three-game road trip. Will Oilers GM Craig MacTavish begin shopping Jordan Eberle, as many have long wondered, or put a guy like David Perron on the trading block? Don’t rule out anything when it comes to floundering club.
- Who steps up for Blues? The “STL Line” remains the hottest line in hockey at the moment, but we’ve all seen what can happen with lopsided production. Alexander Steen tallied his fourth goal of the season in the Blues’ 3-2 win over Ottawa on Saturday and followed up with a pair of assists in the Blues' 4-2 win against Winnipeg on Sunday. In addition to a power-play marker from Jaden Schwartz, the Blues also got goals from David Backes, Ryan Reaves and Paul Stastny. Can they sustain such offensive balance? Also, does coach Ken Hitchcock continue to alternate with Jake Allen and Brian Elliott in goal or does he give one netminder the chance to run with it?
It was the Stars' second straight home victory after they had lost nine of their first 10 there.
Los Angeles dropped to 1-4-3 on the road at the start of a three-game trip. The only victory was at Dallas on Nov. 4.
The Stars will get a third-round pick in the 2016 draft in Friday's deal.
The 24-year-old Dillon has nine goals and 17 assists in 149 career games with Dallas. He had one assist in 20 games this season, along with 26 penalty minutes, 27 hits and 29 blocked shots.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson calls Dillon a "late-blooming" player whose game is trending up and who will help San Jose for the present and future.
The 26-year-old Demers has 16 goals and 82 assists in 300 career games. He has three assists in 20 games this season.
1. The Blackhawks might want to think about just trading Jeremy Morin. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville obviously isn’t fond of his game, and Morin deserves a chance somewhere. He’s 23 and has been in professional hockey since the 2010-11 season. He's put in his time with the organization. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman basically gave Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Hayes opportunities elsewhere by trading them when it was evident they weren’t going to be utilized much. He could do the same for Morin. Morin's ice time was limited again Thursday. Quenneville played him nine shifts and 6:50. He has averaged 7:48 in 14 games and has been scratched four times this season. He doesn't have any production to show for it this year, but he has shown plenty of offensive ability in the past. He also continues to be among the league's leaders in Corsi. It may not click for him in Chicago, but it may still click elsewhere. He is represented by Pat Brisson, who is also the agent for Kane, Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger, so it’s likely Bowman would listen if a trade was what was asked of him. Brisson and Morin likely thought Morin would get more of an NHL opportunity this season when he signed a two-year deal in June.
2. Someone familiar with Patrick Kane’s game described it as a mess just a few weeks ago. I was told Kane was making decisions too quickly and not forcing defenders into difficult situations. You could see him begin making some adjustments recently against the Tampa Bay Lightning and starting to dictate the play and controlling the puck more. He wasn’t rewarded that game, but it was only a matter of time. With a goal and assist Thursday, he’s scored in three consecutive games and has six points over the last three games. He has also recorded consecutive multi-point games for the first time this season. Usually when Kane gets going, he stays going for a bit.
3. Kane’s success the last two games has something to do with Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards being on his line. Quenneville was reluctant to combine Kane and Richards even though that appeared to be the plan when Richards was signed. Anyway, they’re together now, and they’re flourishing. That line was a plus-3 against the Dallas Stars on Sunday and should have been a plus-2 on Thursday. The Blackhawks’ top line had a horrendous line change which created a Flames’ odd-man rush and goal in the second period, and it ended up being on the second line’s tab. Even with that, the line has been a plus-4 and has helped create five goals in the last two games.
The deal also includes a no-trade clause, a source told ESPN.com on Friday.
"Jason is a world-class player and his commitment to the organization is a reflection of what we are building in Dallas," general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "The professionalism and production he brings to our group is key for our success moving forward and we value the leadership he brings to our team."
Spezza, 31, was slated to be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Spezza is coming off a seven-year, $49 million deal he signed in Ottawa. The Senators met his trade demand request last summer and dealt him to the Stars.
Dallas ended a seven-game home losing streak (0-5-2), winning for just the second time in 11 home games (2-5-4).
Klingberg and Eakin scored 33 seconds apart in the opening minute of the third period. Klingberg's goal from the slot was his first in the NHL, in his sixth game, and tied the score 19 seconds into the period. Eakin tipped Trevor Daley's shot from the blue line over Arizona goalie Mike Smith at 52 seconds.
Spezza made it 3-1 with 4:18 remaining as he skated behind the net, came out on the left side and shot into the net.
Lauri Korpikoski scored for the Coyotes with 5:39 left in the first period.
Smith and Dallas' Kari Lehtonen both had 24 saves.
Carolina overcame a 2-0 deficit with four second-period goals. The last of those chased Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen from the game. He stopped 12 of 16 shots in nearly 36 minutes on the ice.
The Hurricanes franchise had not won in regulation at Dallas since 1996, when the team was the Hartford Whalers.
Carolina snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 2-6-2 on the road. The Stars lost their seventh consecutive home game (0-5-2) and fell to 1-5-4 in Dallas this season.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild have rattled off three straight wins to make up ground in the Central Division standings. Most recently, Mike Yeo's squad edged the Winnipeg Jets in a 4-3 overtime win on Sunday. Look for the Wild to continue their climb with Zach Parise back in the lineup. The star forward returned this past weekend after missing five games with a concussion and scored twice in his first game back.
Blues' offense: The St. Louis Blues also are riding a three-game win streak, but perhaps more impressive is that they have won 10 of their past 11 games. Wow. Look at their recent skein and it's easy to see why they are atop the Central Division, scoring 14 goals during that span. The Blues, who embark on a four-game road trip beginning on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, lead the Western Conference with a plus-25 goal differential.
Troy Grosenick: Pretty tough to beat Grosenick's first NHL game, as the 25-year-old goaltender was dazzling in his debut on Sunday, blanking the Carolina Hurricanes while making 45 saves. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Grosenick is the first Sharks goaltender to post a shutout in his debut; his 45 saves in his first game also sets a franchise record. Pretty neat to see his family share in the special moment, too.
Anaheim Ducks: Hard to blame this one on the mumps. One night after losing in overtime against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks suffered an embarrassing 6-2 loss to the lowly Florida Panthers -- at home, no less. Even with Corey Perry back in action -- he missed the past five games with the mumps -- the Ducks could not muster a competitive effort against the Cats. The Ducks still lead the Western Conference, so perhaps we're being a bit harsh, but that sort of a letdown is the sort of thing that draws out the critics when you're considered the best of the best.
Trevor van Riemsdyk: According to ESPN Chicago colleague Scott Powers, the Blackhawks might be without the rookie defenseman for significant time after he took a puck to the leg in a 6-2 win over Dallas on Sunday. Van Riemsdyk has been a pleasant surprise for Chicago and was averaging 14:11 in ice time before the injury.
Valeri Nichushkin: Limited to just four games this season because of a lingering hip injury, the 19-year-old Stars forward is expected to miss at least the next four months of his sophomore season. General manager Jim Nill announced that Nichushkin will undergo surgery this week.
What to watch for:
Home sweet home: Over a month into the season, the Jets are still in the thick of it, just four points back on the division-leading Blues. They'll have the chance to gain even more traction against the Blues on Sunday, when they wrap up a three-game homestand that could give them another boost in the standings.
Tough test: Another pivotal homestand is coming for one of the sleeper teams in the West, the Calgary Flames. The Flames, two points behind the Ducks in the Pacific, host their division foes on Tuesday, marking the third game of a five-game homestand that also features games against the Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils.
Tough test II: The Kings' mettle will again be tested, as the defending champs lost defenseman Alec Martinez to a hand injury last week. Although veteran Robyn Regehr returned on Saturday against Anaheim, expect the Kings' defense, also without the suspended Slava Voynov, to rely on Drew Doughty even more heavily than usual.