The Toronto Maple Leafs will bring back one of their veteran depth forwards for another season, re-signing Jason Spezza. The new one-year deal will pay Spezza the league minimum of $700K, keeping him in his hometown of Toronto as he continues to try and win the Stanley Cup before his playing career comes to an end.
Spezza, 37, was in the middle of controversy before he ever actually hit the ice for the Maple Leafs after signing with them last summer. Former head coach Mike Babcock decided to make the veteran forward a healthy scratch in the team’s season-opening game against the Ottawa Senators, a team that Spezza happened to have played the majority of his career for. That made Maple Leafs fans, media members, and former players irate, ultimately being one of the mistakes some pointed at when Babcock was fired just over a month later.
With that behind him, Spezza actually did fare quite well in his first season in Toronto. Though he ended with just nine goals and 25 points, that came in 580 games while seeing fewer than 11 minutes of ice time per game. For a fourth-line player earning the league-minimum, an 82-game pace of 35 points was more than reasonable.
Now Spezza will enter the 2020-21 season in competition for minutes once again, but the Maple Leafs need players on inexpensive contracts to fill out their depth chart if they hope to add anyone of significance this offseason. Spezza’s versatility is a big part of his value to the team, as the veteran can line up at center or right wing and contributes on the powerplay.