Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Re-Sign Jason Spezza?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 02: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to a face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 2, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 02: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on prior to a face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers on November 2, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs found a diamond in the rough last off-season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs chose to sign four players to massive contracts, which necessitated finding smart deals to fill out the roster.

As misunderstood as it is oft-criticized, the Leafs salary cap structure is nothing short of brilliant.

Mathematically, the NHL is a strong link game, which means results are star driven.  Elite players have massive effects on the outcome of games, but the other 90% of players do not.

Therefore, it makes sense to get as many star players as you can, and pay everyone else the league minimum.  You can make exceptions for players with upside, but more or less, this should be the guiding principle of every team in a salary cap league.

There just is no utility in paying two second line players five or six million dollars when you get more bang for your buck out of one seven million dollar player and a league minimum guy such as Jason Spezza, Pierre Engval, Nic Petan, Adam Brooks, Denis Malgin, Garret Wilson, Pontus Aberg, etc. etc. etc.

Which brings me to Jason Spezza.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Re-Sign Spezza?

Absolutely.

It’s a no-brainer.

Spezza is a future hall of famer who is in the twilight of his great career.  The speed is gone, but the intelligence is still there.

As a fourth liner, he’s way, way above average.

On the second power-play unit, he might as well be 29 instead of 36.

Spezza has 9 goals and 25 points in 58 games this year.  These totals are a lot better than they seem, because Spezza doesn’t get a ton of ice time.

Playing just nine 5v5 minutes per game, Spezza has given the Leafs one of the best fourth lines in hockey with an expected-goals percentage of 52.33% when he’s on the ice. (Naturalstattrick.com).

Spezza is scoring at a rate of 1.9 points per 60, nearly first line rates.

Of course he isn’t a first liner, and he’s doing it on the fourth line, but most players do not score that much from the fourth line.

In fact, Spezza has scored more per minute of ice time this year than John Tavares.  On a per minute basis, only Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Mikheyev have been more effective.

The 36 year old Spezza has had a fantastic season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs should re-sign him for one more year at $1 million or less.

Next. The Leafs Salary Cap Strategy Explained. dark

You can’t have too many players like Spezza who, beyond being a great player and helping the team, is great person and teammate.