For the second straight offseason, there’s great uncertainty regarding the captain of the Ottawa Senators.
Jason Spezza was officially thrust into trade talks on Tuesday — though some would argue he was there already — as Sens owner Eugene Melnyk offered up a pretty blunt assessment of Spezza’s season, and future:
“Definitely not a wholesale change,” says Melnyk. “We need leadership and accountability from top to bottom.” #Sens
Spezza, who turns 31 in June, had a fairly productive regular season — 23 goals and 66 points in 75 games — but boasted a ghastly minus-26 rating and averaged just 18:13 TOI, his lowest total since 2003-04.
As far as trades go, he could be a pretty mobile asset. While he carries a $7 million cap hit next year — the last of his seven-year, $49 million deal — Spezza’s actual salary is only $4 million, a far easier figure for teams to stomach.
“I’m not naive to the talk. I’ve been asked the question lots,” said Spezza, per the Ottawa Sun. “There’s a lot of reflecting to go on here during the months leading up to next season and I’m sure that will be a topic.”
According to the Sun, there are several teams interested in Spezza’s services — Anaheim and St. Louis, specifically. So it seems the questions that need to be answered are these: Is Spezza willing to waive his no-trade, does he want to leave the only NHL team he’s ever played for and are the Sens really going to break ties with another captain after the Daniel Alfredsson fiasco?
Doesn’t sound like Spezza or the Sens are ready to answer just yet.
“I have a year left on my deal still there,” said Spezza. “This is the day after the season. There’s a lot of time to reflect. I’m sure Bryan [Murray] has to reflect and I have to reflect.”
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: