Player Spotlight: Milan Michalek
(Editor's note: As the 2012-13 season draws closer, ottawasenators.com will take a daily snapshot look at some of the returning players from last year, with both a look back and a look ahead).
2011-12 stats: 77 GP, 35 G, 25 A, 60 PTS, 32 PIM, +4 rating
Last season: It's no coincidence that, in his healthiest season as a Senator, the 6-2, 225-pound Michalek enjoyed his most prolific season in Ottawa in terms of offensive production. With 35 goals in 77 games, the native of the Czech Republic established a career high for a single season and led the Senators in that category for the first time. His assist (25) and point (60) totals were also personal bests in an Ottawa jersey. Including in his scoring exploits were a hat trick in a 7-3 road triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Feb. 7, Michalek played his 500th career NHL game in a 3-1 Ottawa loss to the St. Louis Blues.
The highlight: Thanks to huge support from the home fans in league-wide balloting, Michalek was voted into the lineup for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place — his debut appearance in the league's mid-season showcase. He would go on to produce one goal and one assist for Team Alfredsson in the game, which was won by Team Chara 12-9.
Looking forward: Coming off a career year in which he led the Senators in goal scoring, Michalek will be expected to produce more of the same in 2012-13 as he lines up on one of Ottawa's top two lines. Health, of course, will again determine if he can match last season's totals, but Michalek's speed and size are huge assets in the offensive area. And at 27, the Czech winger should just be on the cusp of reaching his prime as a productive NHL player.
Quote: "I'm just proud I made it to the NHL. It was my dream since I was a kid and it's my pleasure to come here every day. I feel like I'm one of the luckiest people ... to play in the best league in the world. I never really thought about (playing 500 games). I just wanted to play every game and go year by year."