Just last year, Ottawa got aggressive in their trade for Bobby Ryan, but how times changed. This summer, they had to trade their top-line center, and did so today, sending Jason Spezza to Dallas for pennies on the dollar.
When it became known Jason Spezza had requested a move out of Ottawa, the Senators' asking price was something like a young NHLer, a prospect and a first round pick. Ideally, the trade would have been made at or before the draft so the Sens could recoup the first round pick they gave up to Anaheim in the Bobby Ryan deal. When no deal was struck for Spezza in Philadelphia, we knew for sure the eventual return in this trade was going to come up flat.
And, really, that's how this was always going to play out. Ryan Kesler was the biggest name and most available center on the market and the Anaheim Ducks didn't surrender their highest draft pick or any of their blue-chip prospects for him. Meanwhile, the Senators had even less leverage than the Canucks did with Kesler, since Spezza only has one year left on his deal and had already denied a move to Nashville. So it shouldn't be a huge surprise that Ottawa was only able to get Alex Chiasson, a second-rounder and no-name prospects for Spezza.
It's an underwhleming return for sure, but it's still better than the nothing they would have got next summer when Spezza departed as a UFA. Ottawa needed to move on and will do so hoping the 6-foot-3, 210-pound winger Chiasson can develop into a bit of a scorer for them.
But boy did this flip around fast. Just last summer Ottawa gave up the first round pick they were trying to get back last weekend, plus some other high quality young players, for Bobby Ryan in a bid to get back to the playoffs. Ottawa made a splash to get better and perhaps overplayed their hand. They failed to even come close to making the playoffs in 2013-14 and now their No. 1 center is gone with no capable replacement in the system, while Ryan himself is one year away from free agency. What does this mean for him? Why would he want to stick around for a rebuild?
If the Senators have to trade him, could they even recoup what they shelled out for Ryan via trade? Nervous times in Canada's capital.
Dallas is the great beneficiary of all this. They don't give up anything they couldn't afford to for a big-time, playmaking center and have a real nice makeup down the middle with Spezza, Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin. Sure, there's risk Spezza will leave as a free agent next summer, but it's worth it. In Dallas, Spezza won't receive all the blame for losses - something he grew tired of in Ottawa - and won't have to be the team's anchor on offence. He can just blend in and do some serious damage as a second-liner. If that's the role he's more comfortable in - and if the Stars improve on a season where they got into the playoffs - why would Spezza leave in a year? He could become part of a young team on the rise, something the Senators tried, and failed, to be.
Stars GM Jim Nill has been very aggressive in improving his team since arriving from Detroit and he's gotten terrific pay off so far. His former Red Wings colleague Steve Yzerman is doing the same in Tampa Bay right now. The Detroit Way is spreading south from HockeyTown and Dallas is lucky enough to be one of the two teams basking in it right now.
It's getting exciting in Big D. The Stars were already a team to watch heading into 2014-15 with their explosive young core - and now they've added Spezza for pennies on the dollar.