On a team that could struggle to score goals this season, Jason Spezza will be relied on heavily to provide offence.
Spezza showed signs of becoming a more complete player last season and I think we'll see that progression to continue next season. Here is how I see the season going for Spezza.
In the last third of the 2010/2011 campaign, Jason Spezza became a leader for this Ottawa Senators team. With veterans either injured or dealt, Spezza readily assumed a leadership role and appeared to take his game to another level. I think we can expect more of the same from the 28 year old this season.
The numbers Spezza puts up will have a lot to do with the production and health of his wingers. With Michalek, Filatov, Alfredsson and Butler expected to all see time on the power play and the club's top two lines, there is a whole lot of unknown among the top six.
Much like the projections for Karlsson, Gonchar and Filatov, Spezza's offensive numbers will have a lot to do with the Sens' production on the power play. I'm counting on the Sens to be a much more efficient with the man advantage and Spezza will be at the centre of that improvement.
Without legitimate wingers, it's hard to see how Spezza can come close the the production we have seen from him in years past. It's at the other end of the ice that I think we'll really see improvement next year. Spezza will continue to develop the defensive side of his game and should see a regular shift on the PK.
As Spezza continues to develop into a more complete hockey player, I think we'll also see him shooting the puck a lot more than we have in previous seasons. His goal totals should increase.
Assuming he stays healthy, Spezza will lead the Sens in scoring next season.
2011/2012 PROJECTION- 75 GP 35 G 48 A- 83 PTS