Continuing our annual grading of players, today we look at an important piece of the puzzle that didn’t get to contribute much to the season, much to the chagrin of all involved.
Season Review – Jason Spezza had a very promising start to the season with 5 points and a +3 rating in 5 games. Then came the news following a shootout loss to Pittsburgh that his oft-injured back was bothering him again to the point where surgery was required. Expected to be out for the remainder of the season, there was some hope when he began skating on his own way ahead of schedule…and then nothing. He had suffered a setback and was off the ice for another month before finally skating with the team during the first round of the playoffs.
Playoffs – Spezza made it back into the lineup for Game 3 at home in Ottawa, but his presence wasn’t enough. Despite playing with a torn meniscus in his knee, Spezza gave a valiant effort but it was obvious that he was well below 100%. He played in the final 3 games of the series against the Penguins, recording an assist.
Contract Status – Spezza has 2 more years and just $9M in actual salary (a $7M Cap Hit) remaining on the 7 year, $49M contract that went into effect in the 2008-09 season.
Importance To Franchise – As the teams top offensive forward and one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the league, he was missed greatly as the Senators struggled to score without him. His importance cannot be questioned any longer.
Needs to Improve – Spezza needs to find a way to stay healthy, which is not something always within his control. Continued development in his own end will make him a more complete player.
Grade – C (Incomplete). Again, through no fault of his own, he just didn’t get to play enough. Give him credit for coming back despite injury and trying to make a difference.