The Dallas Stars landed a big-time scorer to fit into their second-line centre spot, sending forward depth to Ottawa in return.
Numbers Game looks at the Jason Spezza trade.
The Stars Get: C Jason Spezza and LW Ludwig Karlsson.
Spezza, 31, has been one of the premier scoring centres in the league and, since 2005-2006, only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Joe Thornton and Pavel Datsyuk have a higher points-per-game than Spezza's 1.06 (611 points in 575 games).
With a decided tilt towards more offensive zone starts, which makes sense given his skill set, Spezza has put up solid possession stats. In an ideal world, he would be better without the puck, but Spezza has consistently generated shots when he's on the ice. He's also very effective on the power play, which ought to help a Dallas power play that was 23rd in the league last season, converting 15.9% of their attempts.
In Dallas, Spezza should also tend to get favourable matchups, as other teams will still focus on Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin on the top line. At the moment, candidates to skate on Spezza's wing should include veteran Erik Cole, prospects Colton Sceviour and Brett Ritchie as well as, if he's cleared to play, Rich Peverley. What that might indicate is that the Stars are going to still be in the market for additional help.
Some of that additional help comes in the person of Spezza's winger in Ottawa at the end of last season, Ales Hemsky, who signed a three-year, $12-million deal with the Stars.
Hemsky, 30, was getting miscast in Edmonton, as the Oilers turned to younger talent and cut his ice time, but joining Spezza in Ottawa at the trade deadline showed that Hemsky still has what it takes to produce when he plays with top talent.
As a setup guy, Hemsky might fit with Benn and Seguin on the top line, allowing Valeri Nichushkin to slide in alongside Spezza.
With one year remaining on his contract, Spezza brings a $7-million cap hit, though he's a significant bargain as his actual salary is only $4-million.
Karlsson is a 6-foot-3 winger who spent most of his first pro season in the ECHL, scoring 24 points in 39 games. With the Senators taking on three players, Karlsson going the other way eases any potential pressure on Ottawa's reserve list. If he materializes into a legit NHL prospect, it would come as a major surprise and probably an added kick in the teeth to the Senators, who are already giving up the clear top player in the deal.
Dallas is a team on the rise and adding Spezza and Hemsky to the fold does a nice job closing the gap between the Stars and the top contenders in the Western Conference.
The Senators Get: RW Alex Chiasson, C Alex Guptill, LW Nick Paul and 2nd round pick in 2015.
Chiasson is a 23-year-old winger coming off a decent rookie season during which he scored 13 goals and 35 points in 79 games, with mediocre possession stats that were substantially better than his minus-21 rating would suggest, thanks to one of the lowest on-ice save percentages in the league. That's the kind of thing that tends to bounce back, so don't write off Chiasson entirely as a defensive liability.
Offensively, he broke into his NHL career with 11 goals and 54 shots on goal in 19 games (from late 2012-2013 through October 2013), and the 6-foot-3 winger looked like he might have the making of a big goal-scorer, more because he was generating a lot of shots rather than the unsustainable rate at which he was finishing, but Chiasson's ice time decreased as the season went on and he scored eight goals in the final 70 games of the season.
With offensive upside, it's possible that Chiasson would find his way into a role with the Senators' top six forwards, but there will be some competition among other offseason additions as well as the wingers already in the organization. With Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan the established scorers, there will be room for competition with the likes of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad, depending on the next steps for Senators GM Bryan Murray.
Still on his entry-level deal, Chiasson will make $900,000 next season, which is a bargain price for a top-nine forward, particularly one that could conceivably score 20 goals in the right situation.
22-year-old Alex Guptill is a solid prospect, who scored 61 points in 69 games over his last two seasons at the University of Michigan. He joined the Texas Stars late in the season, chipping in a couple of points in five games, so he'll start next season at Binghamton and get used to the pro grind.
Nick Paul is a 19-year-old winger that the Stars drafted in the fourth round last summer. He has good size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and while he made progress in his second OHL season, scoring 26 goals and 46 points in 67 games, he was even better in the postseason, scoring 12 goals and 18 points in 22 playoff games.
Both Paul and Guptill have a chance to eventually play for the Senators, but both are going to need some time before that's a realistic consideration.
A second-round pick brings a little better than a one-in-three chance of yielding an NHL player.
All told, this package isn't particularly sexy in exchange for the second-leading scorer in franchise history, but the Senators didn't have much leverage and have reasonable chance to get two or three NHLers out of the deal, eventually. It might be more encouraging if the Senators were going to take the cap savings from this deal and re-invest it in the team's payroll, but we will have to wait and see if anything happens in that respect before the Senators get credit for losing skill and cutting payroll.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.