Jason Spezza signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
The forward, who turned 38 on Sunday, could have become an unrestricted free agent July 28. He returns for his 19th season in the NHL, the past two with the Maple Leafs, after scoring 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 54 regular-season games to help Toronto (35-14-7) win the Scotia North Division. Spezza scored five points (three goals, two assists) in the Stanley Cup First Round, a seven-game loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“I feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business,” Spezza said June 2, after the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Canadiens. “I feel very invested in the group here and hopeful that I get another opportunity to do that again next year and push this team over the top.”
Selected by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 2 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft, Spezza has scored 970 points (351 goals, 619 assists) in 1,177 games for the Senators, Dallas Stars and Maple Leafs. The two-time NHL All-Star (2008, 2012) has scored at least 32 goals five times and at least 21 nine times. He has scored 75 points (28 goals, 47 assists) in 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games and helped Ottawa reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2007.
Eleven Toronto players are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 28, including forwards Joe Thornton, Zach Hyman and Alex Galchenyuk and goalie Frederik Andersen.
Thornton said June 2 he has not made a decision on his future.
“This came so sudden, I really haven’t had time to think about it,” the 41-year-old said.