With the Senators seemingly ready to move on from the Jason Spezza era, many have started guessing at potential return packages. In these discussions, a number one center is not often mentioned for one good reason: Kyle Turris.
Since arriving in Ottawa in December 2011, Turris has impressed fans and Ottawa's management team alike with his excellent two-way play. His strong play during the shortened 2012-2013 campaign, especially when Spezza was injured, helped his development. Perhaps most importantly, his cameo as the team's number one centre allowed him to gain valuable experience for 2013-2014, when Turris, along with new linemates Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur, quickly became Ottawa's most productive and strongest line.
The Turris line wasn't just Ottawa's number one unit in the eyes of Paul MacLean; the trio faced the opposition's top forwards and top defensemen for most of the season.
Turris is simply one of Ottawa's best offensive forwards and one of the team's best in his own zone. As Travis Yost puts it,
"This year, he looked every bit the part of a first-line center. What he may not have in first-line center sense when it comes to offensive production, he makes up for in being one of the team's best defensive forwards. Again, it's all about margins. And, if you're not going to just drill team's in the scoring department, you better be able to show that you can shut a lot of the other team's top-guys down. When Kyle Turris was on the ice at EV, Ottawa scored 62.5% of the time. Team best, and fifteenth-best league-wide."
Turris set career highs in every standard statistical category in 2013-2014; in many instances, he smashed his old career marks. It's not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that in his third full season in Ottawa (which would also be his third complete campaign in the NHL), he will build on that success.
Another positive for the Senators? Turris is under contract for the next four years. The Senators have to make some tough decisions regarding the team's 2015 UFA class (Spezza, Ryan, MacArthur, Marc Methot, Craig Anderson, and Erik Condra), but don't have to talk extension with Turris until 2017. In 2013-2014, the first year of his new five-year deal, he made just $2.5M. For the next two seasons, Turris will make a paltry $3.5M. He's not only quickly becoming one of the best two-way forwards in the game, but the best value as well.