The Toronto Maple Leafs lost their team Dad this past offseason with Patrick Marleau getting bought out by way of a Carolina Hurricanes trade. With veteran presence needed, Kyle Dubas plugged the hole with a serviceable depth player and verified hockey nerd, Jason Spezza.
In a press conference earlier this week, Tyler Seguin was asked about the loss of Jason Spezza and what it meant to him and the Dallas Stars. The should-have-been Maple Leafs star didn’t hold back on praising his former linemate and impactful teammate.
In the video seen above, when asked about what the Leafs are getting in Spezza he answered: “character, leadership… a hockey nerd if you want to call it that.” Seguin continued on to say that he’s going to miss him and that he was the first guy he called when it came to hockey.
Is it just me or does this sound a lot like the role Patrick Marleau filled on the Leafs for the past two seasons? Marleau took the young guys under his wings, apparently stepped up in the locker room to bring that veteran presence, and was a hockey players hockey player.
On the ice…
There will probably be a different story when it comes to on-ice performance between Spezza and Marleau, though. Spezza is penciled in as the fourth-line center for Babcock’s team, which will allow him to play special teams as a faceoff specialist and bring energy in a limited 5 on 5 role. Marleau was paid too much to play of the bottom unit by the Leafs but ultimately couldn’t cut it on the third unit to justify his contract value.
Dubas moving on from Marleau by trading a first-round pick to Carolina to use their buy out on him suggests the previous statement to be true. This makes Spezza signing a one-year, league-minimum $700,000 deal even sweeter. Spezza signed in Toronto to realize a childhood dream, to play for his hometown team.
If Seguin’s comments show anything it’s that Spezza is still a serviceable player and can help the Leafs on and off the ice next season. Should he falter on the ice, there is enough forward depth to move on from him, but he did have 27 points last season putting him well ahead of Gauthier (14), Petan (1 in 5 games), and Nick Shore (17 in KHL).