Top centreman Jason Spezza is heading to Toronto to have back surgery, and will be out of the lineup indefinitely--but for at least a couple of months. The major surgery is for a herniated disc, and Sens' GM Bryan Murray believes that it's related to past back injuries Spezza has had.
Murray also said that the team is hoping Spezza will be able to return for the end of the 2013 regular season and, assuming the Senators are in the post-season, for the playoffs. In the meantime, the team will try to make up for the loss internally, beginning with the promotion of Kyle Turris. One can safely assume that Mika Zibanejad will remain in Ottawa for most or all of the rest of the season, and Peter Regin will get a terrific opportunity to demonstrate his abilities as an NHL centreman.
The timing of the injury is especially difficult given other injuries in the system, specifically to prospects Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, both of whom are expected to miss upwards of four weeks. Given that Ottawa has already taken many roster players out of Binghamton, Murray said they're hoping to avoid needing to recall more players from that roster.
Although Spezza's back problems have been well-chronicled, he actually hasn't missed that many games due to them--far more games have been missed due to knee, groin, and shoulder injuries, according to TSN's player page.
According to Murray, Spezza felt healthy through his time with the Swiss League and the short training camp. Although he apparently had some pain after his first practice with Ottawa, he was fine until the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins last week.
It's a tough position for the Senators to be in, certainly, but based on the last couple of games, they're still a competitive group--even if significantly less potent--without Spezza in the lineup.