Ottawa center Kyle Turris will have new responsibilities on his shoulders both on and off the ice this season.
On the ice, Turris, who turns 25 next month, will attempt the daunting task of filling the void left by Jason Spezza, who was dealt to the Dallas Stars July 1.
Turris has had practice in the No. 1 center role with the Senators filling in for Spezza two seasons ago while the veteran was recovering from a back injury.
“It’s something that I’ve been lucky to learn from Spezz for the three years that I’ve been here,” Turris told reporters Tuesday. “I know what to expect and I’m going to be more prepared this year if I get the opportunity.”
The New Westminster, British Columbia native finished the 2012-13 season ninth among centers winning 49 per cent of his face-offs to go along with 12 goals and 29 points during the lockout-shortened year.
Last season, Turris set career highs in goals (26) assists (32) and points (58). He finished 14th among centers winning 50.7 per cent of his draws.
“I don’t think I’m going to adjust my game, maybe the preparation mentally you have to be a little stronger, outside of that I have to continue to play my game and improve my game,” he said “I think every body is going to have more responsibility to chip in and contribute and it’s something we all understand.
“We’ve played when Spezza has been injured and hasn’t been there and we know what to expect.”
Off the ice, Kyle and wife Julie are expecting their first child next month.
“It’s a new chapter in our life that we both can’t wait to begin,” said Turris.
Originally the third pick in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, Turris was dealt to Ottawa on Dec. 17, 2011 for David Rundblad and a 2012 second round pick.
Turris and his teammates have experience dealing with a veteran leaving, former captain Daniel Alfredsson left as a free agent last summer and the result wasn’t pretty. After qualifying for the playoffs despite having an injury-plauged 20012-13 season, the Senators finished fifth in the Atlantic Division.
“Maybe we’ve learned from it with Alfie,” Turris said. “Now we’ve just got to move forward and get into the right mindset.”
With Turris heading into Year 2 of a five-year, $17.5 million contract, Ottawa will be getting a bargain if he can manage the workload demanded of a first line center. Turris’ cap hit is just $3.5 million.