For players nearing the end of their careers, a lost playoff would be devastating. One of their last few chances to raise the Stanley Cup evaporates without anything they can do to stop it. That would be the case for Jason Spezza, who went to Toronto on a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs chasing that elusive championship. Spezza has played more than 1,200 NHL games between the regular season and playoffs but still hasn’t been able to see his name engraved on the sparkling chalice.
All through this season Spezza has been clear that his intention is to play beyond 2020, and on a conference call with reporters today including Luke Fox of Sportsnet, he clarified that there is “nowhere else” he’d rather be than in Toronto. Spezza has been excellent in a depth role for the Maple Leafs this season, scoring nine goals and 25 points in 58 games despite averaging fewer than 11 minutes a night. It seems likely that if he is willing to take another bargain to stay in Toronto, the team would be open to it given how inexpensive they need their fourth line to be.
- Scouting for this year’s draft took a huge hit when junior and college seasons were abruptly ended, and the 2021 class looks to be in danger of losing some valuable face time as well. The Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, a huge opportunity for the upcoming draft prospects to show what they can do against the best competition in the world, is expected to be canceled for this year according to Bob McKenzie of TSN. The tournament is scheduled for August in Edmonton, Alberta but is already on the chopping block. McKenzie also notes other events like the World Junior Summer Showcase are also in jeopardy, meaning this year’s draft class could miss plenty of opportunities to show NHL scouts what they can do.
- Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic (subscription required) followed up his earlier report on Gerard Gallant’s interview with the New Jersey Devils by adding that other teams with interim head coaches—specifically the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild—aren’t going to address the situation until they find out what happens with the rest of the 2019-20 season. Those three, in particular, are still in playoff contention, something that the Devils (and San Jose Sharks, who currently have interim coach Bob Boughner in place) don’t have to worry about.