Senators Player Profile: Jason Spezza

The is the seventeenth in a series of profiles on each player for the Ottawa Senators.

Jason Spezza, C, Contract: 7.0/15 (UFA)
1-2/01 (Johnston), 6’3, Shoots R, YOB 1983, Mississauga, Ont
2008-09 82-32-41-73 -14 79pim (1 fight) TOI 19:41 TkA 73 FO% 53.3
2009-10 60-23-34-57 Even 20pim TOI 19:03 TkA 39 FO% 50.5
2010-11 62-21-36-57 -7 28pim TOI 20:11 TkA 52 FO% 56.3

The main part of the Alexei Yashin trade (near the bottom of sportsillustrated.cnn.com/ hockey/news/2001/08/08/sayitaintso_senators/), long gone are the days of Spezza butting heads with coach Jacques Martin for ice time.  Since the lockout Spezza has been the team’s uncontested #1 center, accumulating 456 points in 415 games.  While his name is never included in discussions of the best centers in the league, there’s no question that he is an elite player.

Last season was one to forget for Spezza, but unlike the vast majority of his teammates his numbers didn’t drop dramatically amidst the mess, although he was much more productive after returning from injury in February (30-12-25-37 versus 32-9-11-20).  There’s no doubt that Spezza is expected to lead the charge for the team going forward.

The main criticism of Spezza over the years is puck management/turnovers.  It has been written about so much that it’s nearly impossible to say anything new about it.  Examples: (2007) http://www.thestar.com/article/220308, (2008) sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1149637/index.htm, (2010) communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/hockeycapital/archive/2010/06/15/in-defence-of-jason-spezza.aspx, etc.  There’s no question that he does turn over the puck by making risky plays, but I believe it’s part of what makes him a creative player and that the good outweighs the bad.  Mistakes are easy to magnify and I think he has been getting better about his puck-management.

With Daniel Alfredsson nearing retirement, Spezza is the obivous choice to pick up his mantle.  He’s not the same kind of player, but I think (like most elite players) he’ll relish the challenge of taking it over.  This coming season is going to be difficult, but if Spezza can stay healthy there’s no reason why he won’t score at a point-per-game pace with 25-30 goals.

Spezza’s profile before the 2007-08 season: video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/ console?id=9134
Spezza highlights: http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=31524
Spezza turns Sheldon Souray into a pylon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy0pXTnx85Q

Next up is Daniel Alfredsson.

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