Apr 2, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris (7) shoots the puck in front of New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) in the second period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Is Kyle Turris Ready To Be A Full-Time #1 NHL Centre?


Lost in the recent round of “trade Jason Spezza” rumors is the fact that there will not be a #1 centre coming back in the deal.  Let’s face it, a team acquiring Spezza is doing so because either 1) they don’t have a #1 centre already; or 2) they want a 1 and 1A scenario.  That means that IF, and I still think it is a big IF, Spezza gets traded, that thrusts Kyle Turris into the #1 centre role full time.

Turris has shown that he can centre the top line on the Ottawa Senators.  But, that doesn’t mean he is a #1 center.  There is a difference.  Spezza has been an #1 center in the past, and although he has been limited by health reasons the past two seasons, still has that pedigree.  I have in the past questioned whether or not Turris would ever get to that level.  Although his play has been impressive both filling in for Spezza in the lockout shortened 2013 season and also sort of sharing that role with Spezza in the 2013-14 season, I am still not entirely convinced.  I am more comfortable than I was 2 years ago, but there is still a gap there. 

Turris still doesn’t appear to be physically strong enough to battle other teams top blueliners on a nightly basis.  Without Spezza on a nightly basis to support him, opponents can really focus on Turris and lean on him physically.  Whether he can take that constant pounding every night as the focus remains to be seen.  Spezza had a nightmare season and still out-scored Turris, albeit his defensive play regressed greatly.  Spezza, wherever he is playing next year, will have to turn that stat around to still be considered a #1 centre.

You could compare Turris somewhat to a guy like Derek Stepan, and the Rangers are proving you can win without a true #1 pivot.  The difference is that the Rangers have a physical, skilled, big and deep blue line and also a guy named Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes.  Ottawa does not have such a luxury at this point, at least with any consistency.

The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins proved this spring that having top end offensive players don’t guarantee anything, but thrusting Turris into the #1 spot, and his readiness to accept such a role has to be considered before the Senators jump into a trade that sends Spezza out of town.

Tags: Jason Spezza Kyle Turris Ottawa Senators

  • justin

    In the 48 game season he was the number one center, for the most part with no Spezza (the reason he was put in that situation), no Karlsson and no Anderson. Adding in Karlsson and Anderson (plus what the Sens get in return for Spezza) along with the addition of Ryan and MacArthur, Turris is in a “Now or Never” situation. I think he will do better.

    Also, one key omission you made in this post is disregard for the return for the Spezza trade. Depending on what they get, it could improve the team enough where they are winning and, as everyone knows, when teams are winning, nobody picks them apart and has issues with who the number one centre is (see, as you said, NYR)

    • Jared Crozier

      Fair enough, but also factor in the likely loss of Hemsky and Michalek, and know the return of Spezza isn’t going to bring in a ton of immediate, top end help.

      Also, in that 48 game season, Turris was adequate and while learning to compete, didn’t exactly burn out the red light. 29 points in 48 games led the team, but it was defense (including out of this world goaltending) that had the team in the playoffs that year.