Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza

38-Year-Old CenterC
Toronto Maple Leafs
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Two decades after being drafted second overall by the Senators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, one would expect father time to have caught up with Jason Spezza by the 2020-21 season - and one would have been mistaken. Despite filling a depth role in Toronto, Spezza was remarkably productive during the pandemic-shortened season, posting 10 goals and 30 points in 54 games despite averaging just 11:02 of ice time. Spezza's efficiency and positional versatility ensures he will get an opportunity to reprise his bottom-six role with the Maple Leafs in 2021-22, but the increased competition for ice time could complicate the 38-year-old's ability to duplicate his production from last season. Spezza offers some potential upside for those in deeper formats, but he's not likely to have a significant enough offensive role for most virtual managers. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year contract extension with the Maple Leafs in June of 2021.
Likely slotting in for Game 3
CToronto Maple Leafs
May 6, 2022
Spezza skated on the fourth line at practice Friday and could be entering the lineup in place of Wayne Simmonds for Game 3, reports Mark Masters of TSN.
ANALYSIS
Spezza spent a load of time at practice Thursday on his own, practicing one-timers from the right circle. The Leafs could use a boost on their power play and a quieter, more strategic approach to the fourth line -- Simmonds got caught in too many scrums in Game 2.
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2021–22 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    10:45
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    1:25
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    0:09
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2019–20
10:50
1:10
0:03
2020–21
11:02
1:21
0:48
2021–22
10:45
1:25
0:09
Maple Leafs Depth Chart
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Maple Leafs Power Play Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Spezza had a reasonable 25 points in 58 games last year despite skating a career-low 10:50 per game. At this stage of his career, Spezza's usage is going to be minimal in a fourth-line role. He's produced at least 25 points in each of the last three campaigns, but with a shortened schedule in 2020-21, he may miss that mark for the first time since his injury-plagued 2012-13 season. Fantasy managers should likely steer clear of Spezza, as he isn't expected to add enough scoring to make an impact, and his physical contributions are virtually non-existent.
Spezza's 16th season in the NHL was about what you'd expect from a 35-year-old whose best days are well behind him. While he remained a regular part of the Stars' power play, his ice time at even strength was limited, as was the quality of his linemates, and he failed to reach double digits in goals or 30 points for the second straight campaign. Spezza still has good scoring instincts, but his body increasingly won't let him capitalize on them, and he has a lot of trouble keeping up with the younger, faster skaters around him. He returned home to Toronto on a one-year deal this offseason, replacing Patrick Marleau as the elder statesman on the Leafs, but he's unlikely to approach even Marleau's fairly modest output (16 goals, 37 points) from last year.
The end appears to be nigh for Spezza after he cobbled together only eight goals and 26 points last season, by far the worst showing of his career. The former face of the Senators was never known for his foot speed anyway, but the 35-year-old now has to get by on guile and experience to avoid getting trapped behind the play, and while he still possesses enough skills to be effective in the offensive zone, his opportunities to showcase those skills continue to decline. The Stars won't be counting on Spezza for second-line scoring in 2018-19, instead turning to younger and hungrier players, and he isn't guaranteed a spot on a power-play unit either. With only one year left on his current contract, Spezza could have trouble finding any takers as a free agent next offseason.
Age and injuries continue to take their toll on Spezza, and the former Senator failed to crack the 20-goal mark for the second time in three seasons with the Stars. Heading into his age-34 campaign, he’s no longer capable of handling a top-line center role and is penciled onto the initial depth chart skating on the second unit, flanking newcomer Martin Hanzal. Even in the decline phase of his career, however, Spezza still possesses the skill and creativity to supply offense when he’s healthy and rested, as evidenced by his potting two goals and 12 points over 11 games in late December and early January and ending the campaign with eight points in his final nine. With a secure spot on the power play, Spezza’s fantasy floor should remain solid, even if his ceiling isn't quite as high as it used to be.
A superbly creative playmaker and one of the game’s most consistent power-play threats, Spezza may no longer be the stud scorer of his heyday with the Senators, but he’s settled in as a consistent producer of 60-plus points as the Stars’ (usually) second-line center behind Tyler Seguin. How he gets those points is another story, as his goal totals have varied widely over the last three seasons – 23, 17 and most recently 33. Yes, Spezza nearly doubled his goal total from the prior year, and he did so while posting his best plus-minus since 2011-12, which was (perhaps not so coincidentally) the last time he scored 30-plus goals. He also showed up in the playoffs despite the Stars’ disappointing second-round exit, collecting 13 points in as many games. There’s no reason to expect anything less as he enters another season as the Stars’ third-most-important offensive weapon.
After some turbulence in the early going, Spezza seemed to settle in just fine in his first year with Dallas, generating 17 goals and 62 points in 82 games. While the goal total was his lowest since his rookie season, Spezza's point production generally came at a steady clip, with few long stretches coming where he failed to appear on the scoresheet. Additionally, the 32-year-old center struck four times on the power play and fired over 200 shots on goal for the third straight season. No longer the 90-point player he was during his prime years with the Senators, Spezza remains one of the league's more dynamic No. 2 centers, and could see his scoring total rise in 2015-16 if big-time sniper Patrick Sharp slides in next to him on the wing at even strength and on the top power-play unit. Expect Spezza to stave off Father Time a little longer and remain salient in fantasy circles this season as part of a top-flight Stars attack.
The move to Dallas is going to be good for Spezza. The Senators weren't able to provide the kind of forward depth that this young Dallas team boasts, and that's great news for Spezza's fantasy owners. Teams aren't going to be able to focus shut-down lines on him when the top line in Dallas features Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Plus, the move will reunite him with Ales Hemsky, who was a great complement for Spezza late in the season last year. After Hemsky joined his line in Ottawa, Spezza had eight goals and 12 assists over the final 19 games of the season. Spezza will also add great firepower to what should be a very dangerous top power-play unit. The center should be good for 20-25 goals and 40 assists again this season. There's great upside to drafting Spezza, but just don't jump on him too early.
Spezza missed all but five regular season games with back problems last season, but was effective even when playing through the pain. He was able to record two goals and three assists in those five games, so there's no reason to believe he can't return to his point-per-game form he displayed in 2011-12, especially considering the addition of Bobby Ryan to the team. While the lines haven't been sorted out yet, putting Ryan and Milan Michalek on the top line with Spezza would give the Sens a lethal top line made up of three players who each scored more than 30 goals two years ago. If they slide one of those wingers away from Spezza, that would take some of the attention off of the top line defensively and could perhaps open up more scoring chances. Either way the lines shake out, Spezza is still a fantasy point machine, and could have another big year in 2013-14.
Like the rest of the Senators, Spezza had a fine bounceback season in 2011-12 with 34 goals and 50 assists in 80 games, a 27-point improvement over the previous year while once again playing at better than a point-per-game. This season should see more of the same from Ottawa’s number one center as head coach Paul MacLean’s puck possession game suits Spezza quite well. He'll likely start the year centering Milan Michalek on his left side, but his other winger might not be decided until after training camp, as there are a number of potential candidates. Expecting close to a point-per-game is reasonable based on Spezza's track record, with 35 goals being certainly achievable, as is a shot at 90 points.
Spezza is now unquestionably the focal point of Ottawa's offense for the rebuilding team. In addition to his scoring, Spezza is beginning to develop a more well-rounded game, having spent a lot of time on the penalty kill and being one of the better face-off men in the league during the 2010-11 season. He should see more than 20 minutes of ice time a game and, if he stays healthy, Spezza should put up around 70-80 points with around 25-30 goals.
Spezza should have a nice bounceback year in 2010-11. He'll get plenty of time on the Senators' first power play unit, and with the newly acquired Sergei Gonchar running the back end, Spezza could put up quite a few points with the man advantage. Thirty-five goals and 55 assists isn't out of the question, especially if he remains relatively healthy for the entire season.
The 2008-09 season could be described as a transition year for the 26-year-old center. Under Hartsburg's defensive system there was not much room for creativity and Spezza's numbers took a sharp decline. Although his passion for the game shouldn't be questioned, Spezza's defensive play was sub-par and he was committing too many turnovers. Under Clouston's guidance Spezza's play at both ends of the ice took a dramatic leap forward. No player's numbers improved as much as Spezza's under Clouston's reign, and the young center should have a very nice rebound year with 35 goals and 65 assists not being out of the question.
In many ways, the 2007-08 season was a step back for the talented center. He regressed defensively and displayed a disturbing knack for turning the puck over at key times - Spezza was second in the league with 96 turnovers. That being said, he did enjoy his best offensive season to date, notching 34 goals and 58 assists for 92 points. While not possessed with blazing speed, Spezza is slick with the puck and has that sixth sense for finding open shooters that all great playmaking centers have. Expect to see Spezza improve on both his point totals (40 goals is not out of the question) and his defensive game with the help of head coach Craig Hartsburg.
If Spezza can stay healthy this year, he's got a good chance at challenging for an NHL scoring title. With his maturing defensive awareness, Spezza is slowly turning into a well-rounded and dangerous NHL blue-chip center. He should net close to 40 goals this year with 60+ assists and a strong plus-minus rating.
If Spezza shoots the puck more this season as Murray wishes, the center could put up 30-plus goals easily. This year should further prove Spezza’s skills, so don’t be surprised to see him post 110-plus points if he remains healthy. He is already one of the elite centers in the league and should be near the top of most poolies’ lists.
Spezza will center either the first or second line and thus will play with at least one of the dynamic Alfie-Heatley-Havlat trio. Add the fact that he'll center the first power play unit and you can see why we're looking at least 65 points from the former Islander pick.
More Fantasy News
Recent healthy scratches
CToronto Maple Leafs
April 15, 2022
Spezza has been a healthy scratch four times in the Leafs' last seven games.
ANALYSIS
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Collects helper Monday
CToronto Maple Leafs
March 7, 2022
Spezza notched an assist in Monday's 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets.
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Slides assist in loss
CToronto Maple Leafs
February 21, 2022
Spezza recorded an assist and two PIM in Monday's 5-2 loss to the Canadiens.
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Pockets helper
CToronto Maple Leafs
February 14, 2022
Spezza contributed a power-play assist in Monday's 6-2 win over the Kraken.
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Contributes assist
CToronto Maple Leafs
February 12, 2022
Spezza added an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Canucks on Saturday.
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