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Spezza Says He Still Has “The Fire”, Wants to Return to Leafs

Jason Spezza told reporters he still has the fire to play in the NHL and wants to return to the Maple Leafs next season.

There will be changes in Toronto when it comes to the Maple Leafs roster. Most of the talk these days revolves around big names like Mitch Marner, William Nylander, or Frederik Andersen, but there are depth players and role players on the team and decisions will need to be made when it comes to their respective futures with the organization.

Case in point, Jason Spezza was a league-minimum acquisition for the Leafs last summer and while his time in Toronto wasn’t always perfect and the road sometimes bumpy, he did wind up with nine goals and 25 points in 58 games after Mike Babcock was removed as head coach.

As the season wore on, Spezza played an important role on the Leafs team and provided some leadership and experience. It didn’t pan out the way the team was hoping after an early exit from the postseason, but the Leafs need more leadership, not less and Spezza is interested in providing that.

When speaking to reporters including Luke Fox of Sportsnet about his future, Spezza explained that “the fire still burns” and that he hopes to be back in Toronto next season. He added, “I know that I’m not the player I once was, but I do feel like I can help quite a bit, and the fire still burns and I really hope to be back here next year.”

Related: Canadiens Coach Claude Julien Hospitalized With Chest Pains

A Cost-Effective Re-Signing

There’s an argument that Spezza won’t be a difference-maker when it comes to the changes needed to make Toronto a successful playoff team — at least not alone. That said, as GM Kyle Dubas tries to navigate a tighter salary cap next season and is looking for cost-effective players to round out his roster, he’ll be hard-pressed to find a better fit.

With Spezza’s production, there will be plenty of teams that will sign him if the Maple Leafs choose to pass. Pundits seem to believe the Leafs need more grit and sandpaper in their bottom-six and, for that reason, a Spezza extension is hardly a given. Despite his willingness to do what’s needed, generally, he’s not that kind of player.

But, as the Leafs try to deal with bigger problems in the way their team is structured from top to bottom, re-signing the 16-year NHL veteran seems like a decision that should be easy to make.

Next: Maple Leafs Prospects and Injuries: Lindgren, Kral, Barrie & Muzzin
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