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Under Pressure: Jason Spezza

Aug 8, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

Jason Spezza AP

The Dallas Stars were able to end their five season playoff drought in 2013-14, but getting to advancing to the postseason was only the first step in their quest to reclaim the Stanley Cup.

They have an uphill battle ahead of them and are hoping that acquiring Jason Spezza over the summer will help them close that gap. Spezza, 31, had 23 goals and 66 points in 75 games last season, but was frustrated about his plus/minus rating and, according to Senators GM Bryan Murray, ultimately wanted out of Ottawa because he was blamed too often when the club didn’t win.

Although he asked to be moved, he was at least somewhat particular about his destination and went as far as to veto a trade to Nashville. Maybe the reason he ultimately agreed to go to Dallas was because he saw its potential, given that it’s led by 25-year-old Jamie Benn and 22-year-old Tyler Seguin.

It’s possible that the idea of being “just a piece to the puzzle,” as Spezza put it, also appealed to him. He’s going from being the captain and focal point of the Senators, to the Stars’ second-line center, which in some respects takes some of the pressure off of him.

At the same time, the Stars didn’t give up a second round pick, Alex Chiasson, Nicholas Paul, Alexander Guptill, and Ludwig Karlsson to make Spezza comfortable. The Stars will be relying heavily on him to provide them with a second great scoring line.

On top of that, the value of his next contract could be largely determined by what he does in 2014-15. Spezza is closing out his seven-year, $49 million deal. Stars GM Jim Nill is “pretty confident” that he can re-sign him, but if Spezza doesn’t end up meshing well with the Stars, then Nill might reevaluate his plans.

So while Spezza has traveled roughly 1,420 miles from Ottawa to Dallas, he hasn’t escaped the expectations thrust upon him.

  1. phillyphanatic77 - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Besides my Flyers the Stars are easily the team I’m most excited to see. Jim Nill has made that rebuild look so easy. Football season starting means hockey is just around the corner…

  2. spezzdispenser - Aug 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    I’ll always be a Sens fan but I’m excited to see how Spezza does in Dallas. He had awesome chemistry with Hemsky for the short time they were together. Spezza’s not meant for the spotlight so I think being behind Seguin and Benn will do him well.

  3. darksidecowboy - Aug 8, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    I think he’ll flourish not being the captain and putting his team on his back. Playing with Hemsky and Nichushkin will also give him some weapons to enjoy.

  4. paulerhythm - Aug 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Amazing what scrutiny can do to you when you are the piece instead of a piece. Hey, it did wonders for Marion Gaborik, this could do the same for Spezza.

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