The Latest on NHL free agency (all times Eastern):
A person with knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press the Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to sign veteran center Jason Spezza to a one-year contract when free agency opens.
The 36-year-old Spezza is expected to sign for roughly the $700,000 NHL minimum salary. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because contracts cannot be signed until noon Eastern time.
Spezza is a Toronto native entering his 17th season after spending the first 11 in Ottawa and past five in Dallas. He gives the Maple Leafs veteran depth. He had 27 points last season.
— AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno.
Two NHL rivals helped each other out of a jam by way of a trade in the hours before NHL free agency opened.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Cody Ceci, a 2020 third-round pick and minor leaguers Ben Harpur and Aaron Luchuk from the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, forward Connor Brown and minor leaguer Michael Carcone. The teams announced the trade early Monday.
The deal represents a much-needed change of scenery for Ceci, Zaitsev and Brown. Zaitsev had asked to be traded and waived his no-trade clause to complete the move across Ontario.
Salary cap-strapped Toronto, which still needs to sign restricted free agent forward Mitch Marner to a new contract, clears $6.6 million in space. Ceci is a restricted free agent who needs a new contract and has arbitration rights, but the Maple Leafs likely need him on their thin blue line.
Zaitsev is signed for $4.5 million a season through 2023-24. Brown has one year left on his contract and should get more ice time in Ottawa than in Toronto with its glut of talented young forwards.
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