The Ottawa Senators could have Jason Spezza back in the lineup by the end of the month.
The star centre, who underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc at the beginning of February, has passed another stage in his recovery, according to general manager Bryan Murray.
“Jason has been cleared by the doctors for hard work and to get it going. We’re hoping in about two to three weeks we’ll be able to put him into the lineup for us,” Murray told Sportsnet on Wednesday.
Spezza appeared in the first five games of this season, collecting two goals and three assists. But he experienced significant back pain during the club’s 2-1 shootout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 27 and has not played in a game since. He underwent the surgery on Feb. 1 and has been gradually increasing his workload over the last three weeks.
That Spezza's return is imminent is welcome news for the Ottawa Senators, who have struggled to score goals in recent weeks. They are averaging just 2.1 goals per game, which is the worst mark in the Eastern Conference. But the return of Spezza -- who finished fourth in NHL scoring with 84 points last season -- should help immensely.
The club also believes that goaltender Craig Anderson is close to returning to the lineup as well. They are awaiting word from the netminder when he feels like his sprained ankle is ready for game action, but Murray indicated that it should not be too much longer. He won't play on Friday in New York, but next week could be a possibility for Anderson to return.
On Wednesday, the club welcomed back their leading goal scorer from last season, Milan Michalek, who had missed the previous 10 games with a knee injury.