Player Profile: Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza, C, Contract: 7.0/15 (UFA) 1-2/01 (Johnston)
6’3, Shoots R, YOB 1983, Mississauga, Ont
2008-09 NHL Ott 82-32-41-73 (ppg 0.89) -14 79pim (1 fight) TOI 19:41 FO% 53.3
2009-10 NHL Ott 60-23-34-57 (ppg 0.95) Even 20pim TOI 19:03 FO% 50.5
2010-11 NHL Ott 62-21-36-57 (ppg 0.92) -7 28pim TOI 20:11 FO% 56.3
2011-12 NHL Ott 80-34-50-84 (ppg 1.05) +11 36pim TOI 19:55 FO% 53.5

The main piece of the Alexei Yashin trade, long gone are the days of Spezza butting heads with then-coach Jacques Martin for ice time.  Since the lockout Spezza has been the team’s uncontested #1 center and among the most productive players in the league.  While his name is never included in discussions of the best of the best, he’s an elite player who can’t be replaced in the lineup.

The disastrous 2010-11 season was one to forget for Spezza just like the rest of his teammates, even though his numbers didn’t drop dramatically.  Injury problems were a big part of his struggles (as he demonstrated after recovering in February, going 30-12-25-37 versus 32-9-11-20 prior too), but he was hardly the main problem for the team as they crashed and burned.

Last season was the first healthy one for Spezza since 09-10; he was on the positive side of the plus/minus ledger for the first time since 07-08, and he finished fourth in league scoring (yes, fourth with only 84 points), playing a big part of the team’s surprising run to a playoff spot.  The main criticism of Spezza throughout his carrer has been puck management and turnovers.  It has been written about so much that it’s nearly impossible to say anything new about it (as one can see from 2007 , 20082010, etc).  There’s no question that he does turn over the puck by making risky plays, but I believe it is 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 as he’s matured.

With Daniel Alfredsson nearing retirement, Spezza is the obvious 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.  In the upcoming season Spezza should score at a point-per-game pace if he can stay healthy (last year I predicted the same).

Here are some Spezza highlights along with him turning Sheldon Souray into a pylon.

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  1. […] Player Profile: Jason Spezza […]


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