- Craig Custance
Stars get: Jason Spezza, Ludwig Karlsson
Senators get: Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicholas Paul and 2015 second-round pick
Dallas Stars: A+
When GM Jim Nill first arrived in Dallas, his immediate priority was strengthening the team down the middle. No easy task in a league where everybody from Anaheim to Winnipeg is looking to fortify their center position. Now, in just two offseasons, he’s built a team that has Tyler Seguin centering the top line and Jason Spezza anchoring the second line. That’s impressive.
He’s done it without trading a single first-round pick, an important distinction for a GM who still believes he’s building this team through drafting and player development.
Spezza has his flaws. For one, he has trouble staying on the ice and a player with a history of back problems comes with risk. Second, he was ill-suited as the captain of the Senators -- although this is something that won’t be an issue in Dallas, where Jamie Benn has grown into the leader -- and isn’t necessarily the strong two-way center other top centers are in the West. He’s a rental, in that he’s entering the final year of his contract, but even that has its advantages. Spezza has a $7 million cap charge, which isn’t an issue for a team like the Stars who haven’t been a cap team. But the final year of his deal carries an actual salary of just $4 million, no small consideration for a budget team in Dallas.
According to an NHL source, a contract extension with Dallas wasn’t discussed as part of this deal. If it doesn’t work out for whatever reason in Dallas, Nill can always spin him at the 2015 trade deadline, when contending teams will better be able to fit his high cap number because it will be pro-rated at midseason.