The Toronto Maple Leafs have made some noise on the first day of free agency in the NHL.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 1, 2019
Jason Spezza is coming home, as the Toronto native signed a one-year contract worth $700,000. The 36-year-old isn’t the front-line player he once was, scoring just 27 points (8-19-27) in 76 games with the Dallas Stars last season.
With 915 points in 1065 career games, Spezza has had an exceptional career – one he’s hoping to rejuvenate with a highly-skilled Maple Leafs team.
The Leafs also completed a six-player deal with the Ottawa Senators.
Toronto picks up defencemen Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, as well as minor league centre Aaron Luchuk and Columbus’ third-round draft pick in 2020, in exchange for Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and minor league forward Michael Carcone.
.@SportChek Player Alert: The @MapleLeafs have acquired Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and CBJ’s third-round draft pick (2020) from Ottawa in exchange for Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown and Michael Carcone.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 1, 2019
Ceci, 25, is the key to the deal for the Leafs. The restricted free agent scored 26 points (7-19-26) in 74 games with the Sens last season. The right-shot defenceman averaged 22:34 of ice time – second most among defencemen on an undermanned team in Ottawa last season.
The Leafs will miss Connor Brown, who scored 29 points (8-21-29) last season, but they successfully shedded Nikita Zaitsev’s contract – which has five years left carrying a $4.5 million cap hit. The 27-year-old Russian defenceman has been unable to replicate the success of his first season in Toronto, when he scored 36 points in 2016-17.