The Ottawa Senators will be without number one center Jason Spezza
indefinitely. General Manager Bryan Murray informed the media on Thursday the 29 year old will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.
The Senators don't have any timetable for his return. They are hopeful — provided recovery goes smoothly — that Spezza will be able to return later this season or for a potential playoff run.
While Spezza does have somewhat of a history with back injuries, there were no indicators that he would encounter any problems this season. He had a successful campaign earlier in Switzerland before winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the Spengler Cup. It wasn't until a flare up in last Sunday's game vs. Pittsburgh that it became apparent he needed to be examined.
Murray was adamant that replacing a player of Spezza's calibre — he finished fourth in the NHL scoring race during the 2011-12 season — is a near impossible task. Not only are players of his ability hard to come by, you will not find many willing negotiation partners. Murray admitted he had been exploring potential trade options earlier this season in an effort to reinforce a blueline missing Jared Cowen, but those efforts did not turn up much.
He has not made any inquiries in recent days.
The team will likely look to replace Spezza by internal committee as they have in the two games he has missed thus far in 2013. In those contests the Sens scored eight goals from seven different players despite the absence of their top playmaker up front.
Should the roster change in coming days it is much more likely that the team will make a call up from the Binghamton Senators. Murray praised the work of Luke Richardson and his AHL staff in their work with the farm team, pointing to the play of Mika Zibanejad as an indicator of the franchise's depth. Zibanejad has two points in two games since his call-up and was named to the three stars both nights despite being characterized as underwhelming during his time with the Baby Sens this season.
Spezza's surgery will take place in Toronto on Friday.