Toronto Maple Leafs: Jason Spezza a Quiet, Yet Important Depth Addition

Toronto Maple Leafs - Jason Spezza (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Jason Spezza (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

This summer, the Toronto Maple Leafs unexpectedly signed former rival Jason Spezza.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans should be excited to watch Jason Spezza this upcoming season.

Due to the extensive coverage on restricted free agent Mitch Marner, the Spezza signing has fallen under the radar among Leafs fans.

With unsigned players like Mitch Marner, and fresh new additions such as Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs fans often lose track of the minor signings that take place throughout the offseason. Depth signings tend to be overlooked during the summer months of the year, but have proven to stand as some of the most important deals come playoff time or stretches during the season with roster injuries.

Your Time Is Up…Or Is It?

Not too long ago Jason Spezza was an elite talent in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators.

Known for his incredible playmaking, Spezza was a dynamic centre-man with a lethal shot, who tallied five thirty-goal seasons and ten seasons with twenty goals or more. K

nown as a star in the NHL for over a decade, it is quite strange to put Spezza into the depth category in 2019. At 36, Spezza is no longer a first line twenty-five goal/seventy point player. Although he is no longer in his prime with top line production, Spezza adds a lot of depth to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs had another miserable loss to the Boston Bruins this past spring, mainly due to their special teams inconsistencies and troubles.

Adding Spezza to the Maple Leafs roster gives them a much needed boost in their special teams. Spezza is known for his dynamic playmaking ability, and is a very good option to play on the second power play unit. Spezza played a total of 168 minutes on the power play for Dallas last season, with the majority of the high risk offensive chances coming from his side of the ice (0-40ft from the net) via hockey viz.

Power Moves And Depth Details

As a right handed shooter, Spezza played the left size on the power play for Dallas and tallied two power play goals and ten power play assists.

If Spezza can find some regular power play shifts on either unit in Toronto, he could boost their power play in a positive direction with his playmaking ability. Many of the Maple Leafs options on the power play love to shoot, and much like Mitch Marner, Spezza could find a niche and play Mr. Setup.

Another strong asset Spezza brings to the table for the Maple Leafs are his face-off abilities. The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the top teams in the NHL last season in faceoff stats. In the defensive zone, the Leafs ranked 3rd in the NHL in FOW% with 53.3%. The Maple Leafs ranked 2nd in all situational FOW% with 53%, and also ranked 1st in offensive zone FOW% with 53.7%. In today’s NHL, starting with the puck in all situations is what every team strives for.

Jason Spezza has always been a good face-off player, and it is a skill that he excelled in last season with the Dallas Stars. Spezza went 58.2% in the dot, which would have ranked him 1st on the Leafs last season among centre-men and wingers in FO%.

The Maple Leafs face-off stats can be seen below, with Kadri, Matthews, and Tavares doing most of the heavy lifting.(Stats via hockeyreference, puckbase, foxsports).

Small details may not be as exciting as predicting how many goals Auston Matthews will score, or how many points Tyson Barrie will get on the power play; but sometimes the smallest of details from depth players go a long way into turning a good lineup into a great lineup.

Come playoff time when details make or break a team in a series, a very minor deal can go a long way in giving a team that added boost to get to where they want to be.

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Playing in his hometown, Jason Spezza has the chance to be one of the best free agent depth signings in the NHL; and maybe it gives him the extra motivation to exceed his role expectations.