Spezza

 

Jason Spezza - What's in Store?

With icons plucked from the famously doomed Roman Empire, a franchise like the Ottawa Senators has to be prepared to weather some downturns in fortune.  Indeed, since advancing to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, and then kicking off the next campaign with 12 wins in 13 games (before collapsing in epic fashion), there hasn’t been much to celebrate in Canada’s capital.

 

But Sens’ fans can take heart, all was not lost after Roman civilization dissolved into the dark ages, and all is not lost in Ottawa.

 

In particular, one has to wonder if this is going to be a year of laurels for Jason Spezza.

 

The Spezza Story


Considering that he endured the pains of childhood modeling, even the most jaded of Sens’ fan has to concede that Jason Anthony Rocco Spezza could have turned out worse than he did.

 

Drafted second overall in 2001 by the Senators, Spezza broke into the NHL to stay by 2003.  Scoring-wise, the 27-year-old enjoyed his best years (so far) between 2005 and 2008.  But, injuries aside, it’s safe to say that the last two seasons have left fans and poolies mostly unsatisfied.

 

Here are Spezza’s scoring numbers since the lockout.

 

 

GP

Goals

Points /(points per game)

Points in First 15 Games/(points per game in first 15)

2005-06

68

19

90/(1.32)

27/(1.80)

2006-07

67

34

87/(1.30)

20/(1.33)

2007-08

76

34

92/(1.21)

20/(1.33)

2008-09

82

32

73/(0.89)

13/(0.87)

2009-10

60

23

57/(0.95)

11/(0.73)

 

While Spezza’s points per game total has fallen off absolutely in the last two years (which some would suggest has a lot to do with his wingers), it’s interesting to note that his starts have also become relatively slower.  He used to start hot, but his starts have progressively cooled over the past few seasons.  Should this trend hold true for this year, Spezza’s final points per game ratio will be much better than his points per game ratio of his first 15 games.

 

Unfortunately, declining point totals and injuries haven’t been the only tribulations for the Mississauga native.  Spezza has drawn the ire of Senators’ fans for alleged soft play, culminating in the centre being booed in his own arena during last year’s first round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Spezza’s frustrations surfaced in his exit interview last June when he apparently suggested he wouldn’t mind being traded.  Sens’ GM Bryan Murray, then let this slip to the public, leading to media speculation over whether Spezza might be leaving town.

 

But all is now apparently forgiven, if not yet forgotten. Murray and head coach Cory Clouston had a four-hour meeting with Spezza, which included the top-line centre’s father and his agent, in order to clear things up. Murray now says, “maybe there was a little bit of exaggeration on my part when I made a couple of comments that he wanted out.” And the verdict on how Spezza feels?  Murray recently told the Ottawa Sun, “we’ve got a guy who is committed to the Ottawa Senators.”

 

Spezza in 2010-11


Committed is good first step, but what can we expect from Spezza this year?  There are some indications that it might be very good year for Spezza.

 

He finished strong last year.  After missing 20 games with a torn MCL, Spezza put up an impressive 38 points in his final 30 games.

 

Plus, you have to think that the off-season addition of Sergei Gonchar will only help Spezza find the net, particularly when on the power play (a healthy Alex Kovalev wouldn’t hurt either).

 

Yet, predictions for Spezza remain tepid.  The Hockey News has him pegged for 84 points in their Ultimate Fantasy Guide.  Rotowire, used by Yahoo, has him ranked as the 31st best centre – behind Olli Jokinen.  Now, it’s unlikely that Spezza will contend with the likes of Sidney Crosby as a NHL’s top pivot, but some would suggest that Spezza is being undervalued there. Behind Jokinen? Really?

 

One of those who believes that poolies should see opportunity in Spezza this year is DobberHockey’s own Jeff Angus.

 

For those of you following Dobber’s Expert’s League, Spezza was taken by Angus in the fifth round.  “I think it is a case of when, and not if, for Spezza and the 100 point mark,” said Angus.

 

“He gets an unfair rap from the fans in Ottawa. He won’t hit or play great defense, but he isn’t paid to do either of those things. Give him some skilled linemates and watch him dominate. I’ve always found him to be a player that drops well below his value in almost every single draft I have partaken in.”

 

So while the Senators may still be fighting they way out of the dark ages after their 2007 implosion, Jason Spezza may be a bright spot who’s best is yet to come.

 

And if not, well, maybe the Senators will abandon their creatively-empty ‘SENS’ sweater, and release a commemorative third jersey sporting Mike Duffy.

 


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Comments (6)add comment

bball said:

bballplyr321
... I hate the be the elephant in the room but at what point in time do you take a players current production as a measure of what he is actually going to accomplish? I love your optimism but I have to respectfully disagree with you on your "indications" that Spezza is going to have a good year. In the 2008-2009 season when Spezza's decline began, he had an awesome final couple of months to the season. Great. But what happened? Well the beginning of last year hit and he did nothing. Look at Eric Staal. Since his 100 point season, many people consider him to be a 100 point player. He did that one time. And since that time, he has always been an 80 point player and has ALWAYS ended the season well. At what point is he just an 80 point player and anything above that is gravy? Or how about Dobbers darling, Vinny down in TB? He refuses to lower his expectations for him and sticks with him as a 110 point player. He scored 100 one year, 90 the next and other then that, has never been above 78 points. Injured? Sure. Lack of linemates? Sure. But true 110 point players can get the job done. And on the wrong side of 30, his best days appear to be behind him. I hate to say this but as someone who does not own any of these players, if I were to trade for them, I would assume that they will all three be 70-80 point players for the remainder of their careers and that is all I would be willing to give up for them. A real good friend of mine recently offered me Vinny for Rinne and in the comments section he admitted that he was probably asking for too much. Well he was right. He asked about Voracek and I told him no. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I am not going to give up a young wing who projects out to improve to acquire a center who is going to get me 80 points in an average year. There are a lot of other options out there. What have you done for me lately? Not really. After two years, you have to stop hoping and start to realize that what you see may very well be what you are going to get.
September 30, 2010
Votes: +0

GMGates said:

GMGates
... loving this article.

Drafted him in the 5th round as well. (Dobber's Pirate League)
September 29, 2010
Votes: +1

Frank said:

September 29, 2010
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... Wow, I love that trade for you, Frank smilies/smiley.gif
September 29, 2010
Votes: +1

Frank said:

NoUseForAName
hope it's a good move I'm glad to see this article as I traded for him this week, along with Duchene, Bernier and a 5th round pick, giving Price, P.Bergeron and Frolik and a 3rd and 4th round pick.
September 29, 2010
Votes: +1

sentium said:

Dakkster
... His play in camp and pre-season surely suggests that he's due for a comeback year.
September 29, 2010
Votes: +2
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