Can you remember the last time the Ottawa Senators had a true offensive second line centre?
It would not be "radekal" to claim the only true one-two punch down the middle in Ottawa's history goes all the way back to your favourite Senators fashion icons and "franchise players", Radek Bonk and Alexei Yashin. Bonk eclipsed the 50 point mark four times while bouncing between the top two lines. His spot in the lineup depended largely on whether or not Alexei decided to show up that day/week/month/year. The 2000-2001 season would mark best and final year of the Yashin-Bonk era, with Yashin netting 88 points, and Bonk tallying 59. Although fans' memories of the pair may not be so fond, their 147 points that year earned them the honour of the highest scoring centre duo in a single Senators season.
Mike Fisher spent several years in the 2C slot (with help from Bryan Smolinski and Antoine Vermette), but his time playing second fiddle to Jason Spezza was more about preparing for his relationship with Carrie Underwood than it was about producing on the score sheet. Fisher cracked the 50 point mark (the somewhat arbitrary standard set for 2nd line forwards) only once in his tenure with Ottawa. At their peak, the Spezza-Fisher combo scored a respectable 139 total points between them in 2007-2008.
Enter Kyle Turris. His 6 goals in last year's playoffs tied Bonk's best playoff run and eclipsed Fisher's career high of 4. Turris put up 29 points in both of his shortened seasons with Ottawa, which puts him at a pace of about 50 points per 82 games. Paul MacLean has been quite vocal about the fact that he believes it was unfair to Kyle to thrust him into the 1C role last season due to Spezza's injury woes, but nevertheless, Turris managed to put up some decent numbers for an inexperienced player on a low scoring team. With Spezza past his prime, it's unrealistic to expect the pair of centres to eclipse the 147 point plateau between them, but it would not be surprising to anyone if the pair could split 85/55 between them and pass the mark set by Spezza and Fisher in '08.
For a 24 year old, Kyle Turris has been a part of a surprising number of controversies. Turris's seemingly soft spoken demeanour is perhaps best treated as the eye of the storm. Here's a quick rundown of all the funny business he's been up to:
- September 2011: Turris demands a trade out of Phoenix, causing him to hold out until being traded to the Senators for David Rundblad on December 17th. Turris's agent claimed the contract negotiation had "never been about money" which strangely enough is the Phoenix Coyotes' official team motto.
- February 2012: Joe Corvo publicly challenges Turris to a fight. Presumably as an act of revenge for an earlier hit from Corvo, Turris left his feet to lay a questionable hit on Uh Oh Joe, making Kyle Turris the only person in Ottawa to remember Joe Corvo ever laying a hit.
- April 2012: Kyle Turris illegally smuggles an assault weapon into the game, or at least that's how Henrik Lundqvist recounts it:
- April 2012: True to his reputation as a thorough investigative journalist, Don Brennan revealed Kyle Turris's love for cheesecake. When reached for further comment, Kyle responded, "Waoo aii waeawy waauu aaa baauiiwoo uaaiwambaao." Kyle has been asked to swallow before giving future inteviews.
- December 2012: Turris had some harsh words for Karpat of the Finnish Elite League, for whom he played during the NHL Lockout, episode III. Turris was quoted as saying, "There's nothing to do here. Nothing. If we're not at the rink, we're sitting around playing video games...I'm going stir crazy over here." Turris later clarified his statement by adding "...which is a huge improvement over Kanata!"
- March 2013: Turris scores the OT winner against Buffalo from an impossible angle. The goal angered fans (read: me) as they knew it would give credence that god awful powerplay setup. There's no joke here. That powerplay setup is terrible. Please kill it with fire.
- May 2013: Turris scores the series-clinching goal against Montreal with his rear end.
...sparking the creation of the most beautiful hashtag known to man:
- June 2013: Patrick Wiercioch gets married, ending the homoerotic narrative between Patrick and Kyle that gave 50 Shades of Grey a run for its money.
Unlike many of the other players on our Top 25 under 25 rankings, Turris's future with the team is extremely secure long-term. He has the second longest contract on the team, second only to a player who may or may not appear in our rankings tomorrow. Turris has 5 years left on his contract with a measly $3.5 million cap hit, which looks like absolute larceny on behalf of Bryan Murray. Despite being with the club for almost 2 calendar years, the 2013-2014 campaign will be Turris's first full season with the team. With Clarke MacArthur and a winger to be named later as his new linemates, fans' expectations for Turris shouldn't deviate significantly from the 50 point pace he put up over the last two half seasons.