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12/30/2006 10:16 AM

Chosen second overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, Jason Spezza began his professional career with a short stint in Grand Rapids during the 2002 Calder Cup Playoffs before Ottawa set up their AHL affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., the following season.

At age 19, the Mississauga, Ont., native tore up the AHL in 2002-03, tallying 22 goals and 54 points in 43 games, earning a trip to the AHL All-Star Classic and garnering a spot on the AHL’s All-Rookie Team at season’s end. Spezza made quite a splash in the NHL also, recording 21 points in 33 games with Ottawa.

After spending the entire 2003-04 season with Ottawa, where he ranked fourth on the team with 55 points (22g, 33a) in 78 games, Spezza returned to Binghamton in 2004-05 to continue his development during the NHL lockout.

Appearing in all 80 games for the B-Sens, Spezza led league with 85 assists and 117 points, the most by any AHL player in a decade. He was named the league’s MVP and a First Team All-Star, and made his second AHL All-Star Classic appearance at the mid-season event in Manchester, N.H.

Since returning to Ottawa last year, Spezza has established himself as a leading player in the National Hockey League. After pacing Ottawa with 71 assists and finishing third on the team with 90 points in just 68 games in 2005-06, he currently ranks 10th in the NHL scoring race with 44 points in 36 games this year.

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