The Toronto Maple Leafs' players met with the media this morning (via Zoom) to break down their season, review what went wrong and talk about the future. For 37 year old Jason Spezza, the future is of the utmost concern.
He's a nearly 20 year NHL veteran now and clearly only has so many opportunities left. Still with 10 goals and 30 points in 56 regular season games, Spezza has proven that he can still compete at the highest level and that he has a lot to give even if his birth certificate says he should be riding off into the sunset. Still, Spezza is unsigned for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
He was asked point blank if he'd like to return to the Leafs and he didn't hesitate for a moment.
“I would,” said Spezza said when asked if he hopes to come back next season. “I feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business. I feel very invested in the group here, and hopeful that I get another opportunity to do that again next year and push this team over the top.”
To me, it's an absolute no-brainer to bring Spezza back. He played remarkably well in limited minutes and gave the Leafs the center ice depth that they've lacked for a few years now. And, while fellow veteran Joe Thornton looked to lag behind the play at times this season, Spezza looked 10 years younger than his true age. Always a great skater, speed and pace of play isn't an issue for Spezza.
“I love the game,” added. “I realize that my opportunities to win are becoming less and less, and that probably creates a high level of desperation internally for me to drive and to be my best every day. I’m not sure how much longer this goes and I’ll get an opportunity to try to win. And I really want to win.”
With the season over now and with free agency on the horizon, I wouldn't be surprised if Spezza takes his time to review offers but I still fully expect him to be back on the Leafs' roster for 2021-22.