What to do about Spezza

Speculation over the future of star Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza is swirling ahead of the NHL draft, writes Ken Warren.

Would Senators general manager Bryan Murray accept a package of Edmonton Oilers Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid — the same trio in the deal Dany Heatley vetoed last summer — in a trade for Jason Spezza ?

Could Spezza serve as the long-lost perfect centre for Columbus Blue Jackets left-winger Rick Nash?

Is there substance to speculation the Boston Bruins would deal their second-overall draft selection at the NHL entry draft on June 25-26 to Ottawa, in exchange for the Senators’ first-line centre?

And what are the chances that Murray would look at a shortlist of unpalatable offers and decide the team is better served by keeping Spezza ?

They’re all questions in the air as Murray mulls over whether to deal Spezza before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.

League wide, most teams are simply “tire-kicking” in trade talks, according to Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who, as the host general manager, is excited for the opportunity to expose Californians to the NHL draft process.

Boston Bruins

When it comes to suggestions Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli could deal the club’s second-overall pick to the Senators as part of a package of players for Spezza , perhaps it’s a case of someone adding two plus two and coming up with five.

Chiarelli has indeed talked to Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini about a deal to flip-flop the first and second picks. He has also said he could trade some combination of the team’s other early draft choices (15th, 32nd and 45th) to secure another high early pick.

But while the Bruins were starved for offence last season, it’s unlikely Chiarelli would give away a potential franchise forward such as Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin , while inheriting a $7-million salary.

Maybe the Bruins would consider a separate deal involving one of their existing centres — Marc Savard , Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci — but it’s unlikely either Murray or Chiarelli would want to make a blockbuster deal within their own division.

Edmonton Oilers

The first overall pick for Spezza ? Forget about it. . Earlier this week, the Edmonton Journal opined that the Oilers should swap Penner , Cogliano and Smid for Spezza because the money is essentially a wash (Penner and Smid will make $5.3 million next season and Cogliano is a restricted free agent). Sure, it makes sense for the Oilers.

And sure, Murray first brought Penner into the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks, signing him as a free agent out of college. Smid is a solid Top 4 NHL defenceman.

But who, exactly, would become the Senators’ No. 1 centre? Cogliano is coming off a 10-goal, 28-point season. If the Oilers substituted Sam Gagner for Cogliano , it might pique Murray’s interest, but Gagner also needs to be re-signed as a restricted free agent and he has yet to prove he’s a legitimate first-line centre.

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