First round of NHL draft passes by without Spezza deal

 

 
 
 
 
Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen)   Negative No.114433
 
 

Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen) Negative No.114433

Photograph by: Chris Roussakis, Ottawa Citizen

PHILADELPHIA – The long goodbye for Jason Spezza continues. And, so, too does the unsettling state of limbo for the Ottawa Senators franchise.

The Senators came into Friday’s NHL draft aiming to set course on a new direction, trying to find a workable trade for their captain, hoping the return would include a fresh-faced first round prospect they could sell to their fans.

Alas, none of it happened.

Instead, Senators GM Bryan Murray and his scouting staff spent a disappointingly idle night on both the trading front and the draft floor.

“There were conversations, teams that suggested they might do certain things, but at the end of the day, there were no legitimate (offers),” Murray said after the first round ended.

“We’ve got to get some value for a really good hockey player and that wasn’t out there at this point.

“Four or five teams called. Three kind of hung in and suggested that they were very interested, but when we got to today, there were really no call backs.”

He said it was “frustrating.”

While Aaron Ekblad went first to Florida, followed by Sam Reinhart to Buffalo, Leon Draisaitl to Edmonton and Sam Bennett to Calgary and on and on for the first 30 picks, the Senators were mere spectators. Their first round pick was traded to Anaheim in last summer’s deal for Bobby Ryan. Anaheim used that 10th overall selection to choose Nick Ritchie.

It’s now possible that Spezza could still be with the Senators when free agency opens July 1. The longer Spezza lingers as a member of the Senators, the more it will bring up comparisons to the summer of 2009 with Dany Heatley. Heatley wasn’t traded until September.

All things considered, it was a rather routine draft day, with Ryan Kesler and James Neal the only two big names traded.

Leading up to the draft, there were hints that some other major deals were in the works, some involving the Senators.
Florida general manager Dale Tallon had been outspoken about shopping the first overall selection and a variety of scenarios – including the possibility that Winnipeg’s Evander Kane could end up in Ft. Lauderdale – were involved.

While Tallon later said a couple of teams came “close” to prying away the pick, ultimately he held on to the choice to select Ekblad.

Late Thursday, the St. Louis Blues announced a three-year, $11.1 million extension for Patrik Berglund, who was originally scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

That resulted in speculation that with Berglund under contract, teams would be more willing to trade for him. Berglund had figured prominently in Spezza trade talk.

There was also speculation that once a big name was moved – Kesler was at the top of the list – more deals would quickly follow. “I said (to scouts) that there must be a blockbuster going on, because nobody’s reaching out to us right now,” Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said at noon on Friday.

Vancouver broke the ice, trading away Kesler to Anaheim just before 3 p.m. Anaheim gave up its 24th overall selection in Friday’s draft, along with centre Nick Bonino and defenceman Luca Sbisa. Bonino, 26, had also figured prominently in the trade speculation involving the Senators and Ducks.

Vancouver wasn’t done, later trading defenceman Jason Garrison, prospect Jeff Costello and a seventh round pick in 2015 to Tampa Bay for Tampa’s 50th overall draft selection.

The only other significant move before the draft was the Arizona Coyotes decision to buy out the remaining contract of centre Mike Ribeiro.

Ribeiro had three seasons and $17.5 million remaining on the four-year, $22 million contract he signed last summer.
The Coyotes’ decision to buy him out also raised some speculation that Arizona was cleaning up its financial house in anticipation of adding another centre – perhaps Spezza.

That wasn’t happening.

An hour into the draft, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was treated to boos by the Philadelphia fans throughout the night, said he had a trade to announce.

No, it didn’t involve the Senators. Rather, was a deal sending Neal to Nashville, in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

 
 
 
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Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen)   Negative No.114433
 

Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen) Negative No.114433

Photograph by: Chris Roussakis, Ottawa Citizen

 
Ottawa, Ontario. September 14, 2013 --- Ottawa Senators forward, Jason Spezza was officially named the team captain during a announcement that took place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, September 14, 2013. ( Chris Roussakis / Ottawa Citizen)   Negative No.114433
Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler lines up for a faceoff against Los Angeles Kings' Jarret Stoll during first period NHL hockey action in Vancouver on April 5, 2014. The Canucks say they are happy picking sixth in the NHL draft as it stands now but that hasn't stopped new GM Jim Benning from making calls. Benning has a major asset to dangle in the form of centre Ryan Kesler. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
 
 
 
 
 
 
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