FRISCO, Texas -- When Jason Spezza was traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Dallas Stars on July 1, the veteran center had a pretty good idea he would sign a contract extension with his new team in the near future.
However, Spezza, 31, who spent his first 11 NHL seasons with Ottawa, wanted to table any contract discussion until after he had ample time to get to know not just his new teammates, but the Stars organization.
On Friday morning, Spezza signed a four-year contract that can keep him in Dallas through the 2018-19 NHL season. Financial terms were not released, but TSN reported the average annual value at $7.5 million. Spezza was in the final season of a seven-year contract and could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Center - DAL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 18
SOG: 42 | +/-: -8
"It's an exciting day for myself and my family," Spezza said. "We've been really happy with the team and the organization. It's nice to commit to the team and look forward to the years to come."
Through the first 20 games, Spezza has four goals and 18 points. He's second on the Stars in scoring and has skated on Dallas' top line, alongside captain and left wing Jamie Benn and right wing Tyler Seguin. Spezza also has skated on the Stars' second line.
But no matter where Dallas coach Lindy Ruff has put Spezza in the lineup, he has delivered.
Spezza said he feels that like the Stars, who snapped a seven-game home losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, he always can improve.
“Much like everybody, I feel I could still be a better player than I’ve shown," Spezza said. "But we’re showing strides as a group. We've gone through some tough times. And if we can get through these tough times, I think when we come out of it on the other end, it can be great for the character of our team. I feel like within the roster I'm a good fit. It was just the right place for me."
Stars general manager Jim Nill was instrumental in getting Spezza to Dallas in the first place. Nill was excited when Spezza arrived in July in exchange for forward Alex Chiasson, two prospects and a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Nill was equally pleased to discuss Spezza's extension Friday.
"He's an elite player in the game," Nill said. "These guys, they don't fall out of the sky. We're happy he's part of our organization. We're excited that he knows what we're building here and believes in us. I think it's good for the whole organization."
As strong as Spezza has been through the first quarter of the regular season, Ruff said he feels the best is yet to come.
"He’s real good with the puck," Ruff said. "I think as he settles in here he's going to get better and better. You know he can make plays and he's a big body. He's got good vision. Those are things that I think throughout his career have led to the numbers he's had."