Over the next month, SenShot will be doing off-season report cards for all your Ottawa Senators. Let’s see each player’s grade for the 2010-2011 season.
Ottawa Senators’ number one center Jason Spezza had another injury plagued season which saw him only suit up for 62 games and post 57 points. With consecutive seasons with 57 points and under 65 games played, has Spezza reached his plateau or is there another level he could take his game to?
Spezza’s season can be split into three sections. In his first 37 games of the season, Spezza had nine goals and 20 points. Having a poor start to the year, Spezza struggled offensively as did the whole team. These 37 games saw Spezza go pointless in 19 of those games and had the Senators in the bottom of the league. Spezza also missed five games in this stretch due to a groin injury.
The next section of Spezza’s season is a 15 game stretch where he was out of action with a right shoulder injury. Spezza was hit awkwardly into the boards by Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. This time showed the true value of Spezza to Ottawa as the team only won once in his absence.
When Spezza returned from his injury, he was a new man. In his final 30 games, Spezza had 12 goals and 37 points. With a depleted line-up due to trades and injuries, Spezza was the go-to guy for Ottawa. Playing well over 20 minutes each game, Spezza was counted on in all situations. Spezza turned into one of Ottawa’s best penalty killers and was making players around him better. Playing with AHL call-ups Bobby Butler and Colin Greening, Spezza made them look like they belonged in the NHL.
Spezza ended the season as the leader of the Senators and had matured into a complete player. Playing a solid two-way game, Spezza was one of the hottest players in the NHL in the second half of the season. Spezza continued his hot play as he suited up for team Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championships. Starting the tournament on the third line, Spezza was soon moved to the first line to center a line with Rick Nash. In seven games at the tournament, Spezza had four goals and seven points.
Now in his off-season, Spezza will look to get past his injury woes and get stronger to be able to play a full season for the first time in three years. With last season’s speculation that Spezza may be shipped out of town, Spezza has cemented himself as the team’s best player and future leader of the franchise. Even current captain Daniel Alfredsson stated that Spezza should be the next captain of the team when he retires.
Look for Spezza to continue his progression as a two-way center (hopefully) and to lead this team offensively. With the youth movement happening in Ottawa with their rebuild, Spezza will be counted on to show what it takes to be a player in this league.
With Spezza’s up-and-down season offensively, plus his injury problems, Spezza earns a B for the season. His grade is boosted by his maturation into a leader and a two-way player in the latter part of the season. Hopefully with Spezza’s new found philosophy to play a 200 foot game, he will be able to increase his grade next season.
Contract status: $7 million a yr until 2014-2015 season, then becomes a UFA.
Trade status: None. Will be the franchise player that the rebuild is built around.
How do you feel about Spezza’s B for the season?
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