Jason Spezza is no longer a pending unrestricted free agent. The 31-year-old center has signed a four-year, $30 million extension with the Dallas Stars.
With that, the list of pending UFA centers lost the only player who could be deemed elite. (Please, let’s not turn this into a discussion on whether Spezza is an elite center. That’s not the point of this.)
Certainly some names you’d recognize, like Brad Richards, Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette, Matt Cullen, Daniel Briere, Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll, Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro.
While some of those guys might have been elite in the past, they’re not anymore.
To be fair, Fisher, 34, and Vermette, 32, should garner considerable interest should they get to free agency. How the former comes back from his Achilles injury will be particularly interesting to watch given his contract status. The latter, meanwhile, could be one of the prize commodities at the trade deadline.
Still, those two are No. 2 centers, maybe even No 3s on a good team. If you’re the GM of a club that’s lacking a real impact player down the middle, don’t expect July 1 to be the day you solve your problem.