Toronto Maple Leafs: Best Player in the Playoffs Earned a Promotion

Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)
Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports) /

While he isn’t paid like one of their best players, Jason Spezza has played among the best for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

One of the ways top teams accumulate their talent is by getting players taking a pay cut. It is something fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs ask from every player.

The 2021 NHL Playoffs were a disappointing one for Toronto. The highest-paid players underperformed or never got the opportunity to play due to injury. One player that is severely underpaid and earned a more prominent role with the team this upcoming season is Jason Spezza.

The 38-year-old earned some money in his lengthy career. Before donning the blue and white, he accumulated just under $91 million. From making $7.5 million with the Dallas Stars, Spezza joined the Leafs on a team-friendly one-year contract paying a league-minimum $7k.

While earning pennies compared to others on his team, the veteran impressed, putting up 25 points in 58 games. After re-signing an identical deal, he put up 30 points in 54 games. What impressed me the most came in the Round 1 series against the Montreal Canadiens. (stats

While elite players Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews combined for one goal and nine points, Spezza notched three goals and five points. Who would have thought someone in their 18th season getting paid league-minimum would have better production?

Thankfully general manager Kyle Dubas convinced the veteran to return on another one-year league-minimum deal. While it was increased to $750k this season, that is still one hell of a bargain.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Jason Spezza

The Seattle Kraken executives are deciding which players they should pick from every team except for Las Vegas. Two names circling to leave the Leafs are defenseman Justin Holl and Swiss Army knife Alex Kerfoot.

With the possible departure of Kerfoot, a hole will open up at the third-line center spot. Will Pierre Engvall play more consistently? Will Adam Brooks take another step up? Instead, Spezza proved he has more left in the tank and at a cheaper rate.

Jason Spezza more than earned his spot with his performance during the regular season, the playoffs, and his role in the locker room. Jason is one of the players that will leave everything he has on the ice, and that is what you want from a veteran like him.

Centering the third line will mean Spezza’s stamina must be up to par. His 11 minutes per game won’t be enough and would likely increase to around 14. The last time he played at least 14 minutes per game was the ’16-’17 season with the Dallas Stars, averaging just over 16 minutes.

It may be difficult for a 38-year-old to play that many minutes every night, and that’s why head coach Sheldon Keefe can move Spezza up and down the lineup. He can switch between running the third and fourth line.

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Keeping Jason Spezza’s legs fresh is the key to him thriving yet again. He deserves more opportunities this upcoming season. After playing at a 46-point pace this past season, how will the veteran fare in 82 games? Keefe needs to find out.