by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza was signed to a multi-year deal on Monday. Negotiations between the two sides went quickly. The young NHL star wanted it that way to ensure Senators management had the opportunity to finish filling in the rest of the 2006-07 roster.
"I wanted to make sure our team is as good as it could be," Spezza says. "By knowing where I stand with the team, it allows them to figure out what they want to do the rest of the way. It shows they want me to be a key cog and I want to be a key cog. It shows the confidence they have in me to give me a deal so soon and lets me focus in being the best player I can be."
Senators general manager John Muckler wanted to make sure he was able to reunite the Spezza-Dany Heatley combination again this coming season.
"(Spezza) worked very well with Heatley (in 2005-06)," Muckler says. "They seemed to go like glove and hand. We hope that continues. We hope they improve. We hope our whole hockey club improves."
This summer Spezza has been rehabbing a back injury he suffered last season. He says the therapy is progressing well.
"Everything has gone according to, or ahead of plan. I'm about two weeks away from being able to do pretty much whatever I want. I feel pretty good but the doctors are really making sure I don't do too much right now. We have the benefit of the summer to be able to do that."
Last season Spezza finished 14th in league scoring with 19 goals and 90 points in just 68 games. His 71 assists placed him second in the NHL behind San Jose Shark Joe Thornton (96). In 179 career NHL games, Spezza has accumulated 166 points.