It's never a good sign when teams start shopping their captains around. The two Ontario teams - the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs - both had disappointing seasons, and it appears that the guys with the C on their sweaters are taking the fall. Jason Spezza, named captain after the loss of Daniel Alfredsson to the Red Wings, is actively being shopped by the Senators to a Western Conference squad. Leafs captain and new recipient of a 7-year, $49 million contract extension Dion Phaneuf is also being shopped out west, according to SportsNet.
Phaneuf, who finished the season with eight goals, 23 assists, and a miracle +2 rating, also has the emotional depth and on-ice judgement skills of a puddle of mayonnaise sometimes. The Leafs allowed slightly more goals per 60 minutes of ice time with him than they scored (.373 vs. .233), and while his Fenwick and Corsi managed to improve over last season's, they are still well below previous trends.
Phaneuf primarily starts in the defensive zone, which translates to someone that the Blues would probably prefer to use in either a shut-down role as opposed to Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, who start just as often in the offensive zone as they do in the neutral and defensive zones.
Phaneuf is also not cheap, as mentioned above. The cap is projected to rise next season and the Blues will be shedding salary in the form of many UFAs (especially Derek Roy). Signs also are not pointing at a re-upping of Ryan Miller. Toronto may be covering a million or two of his salary to make him trade-able, and Nick Kypreos was tossing around Kevin Shattenkirk as bait. Shatty's cheaper, provides offensive punch, and is cheaper. Have I mentioned he's cheaper? Phaneuf is more intimidating than he is, though, so the Blues need to decide if they want grit or skill back there.
Jason Spezza is also not cheap, with a $7,000,000 cap hit for next season. He's also under contract only for next season, so he'd be a rental for second line center. But hey, wasn't that Derek Roy's job? Spezza could actually fill that role successfully. Not that I dislike Vladimir Sobotka, because I actually like him very much, but he is not a second line center. My greatest fear with Spezza is that someone with 23 goals and 43 assists last season will wind up playing wing on the third or fourth line.
All joking aside, Spezza would be a player who would be one of those cliche'd "difference makers." Imagine this, if you will. A consistent center between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Now, imagine that happening this season in the playoffs
Stop crying - I know, it's rough.
Spezza's good for between 20 and 30 goals a season and probably 35-50 assists (Derek Roy had 37 points as a comparison). If the Blues were going to shell out bucks on a player they needed at the deadline last season, and it wasn't Matt Moulson or Thomas Vanek, Spezza would've been a fine catch.
The Blues need to pay to win, and they need to pay to fill what they need over filling a goalie spot.