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Senators re-sign MVP Spezza, four others

The Ottawa Senators, parent club of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, have re-signed five players who spent last season with the East Division champion B-Sens. Returning to the organization for the 2005-06 season on one-year deals are centers Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette, right wing Chris Neil and defenseman Christoph Schubert. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov signed a two-year contract.

Spezza, 22, returned to Binghamton for the 2004-05 season and earned the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player, leading the league with 85 assists and 117 points while playing in all 80 regular-season games. Spezza also played in the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic and was named center for the AHL First All-Star Team.

A native of Mississauga, Ont., Spezza has totaled 54 goals and 117 assists for 171 points in 123 regular-season AHL games with Binghamton. He was an AHL All-Rookie Team selection in 2002-03. In two seasons with Ottawa (2002-04), Spezza has recorded 76 points (29g, 47a) and 79 penalty minutes in 111 games. Ottawa selected Spezza second overall in the 2001 NHL draft.

Antoine Vermette finished third on the B-Sens in scoring with 73 points last year.

Vermette, 23, collected 28 goals and 45 assists for 73 points to finish third in scoring for the B-Sens in 2004-05. He also led Binghamton in playoff scoring, tallying one goal and four assists for five points in six games. In 2003-04, Vermette saw his first NHL action, recording seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 57 games during his rookie season with Ottawa.

Also an AHL All-Rookie Team selection in 2002-03, Vermette has tallied 62 goals and 73 assists for 135 points in 161 AHL games with Binghamton. The St-Agapit, Que., native was Ottawa’s second second-round draft choice (55th overall) in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Anton Volchenkov was an All-Star in his first season in the AHL.

In 69 games during the 2004-05 season, the 23-year-old Volchenkov finished second in scoring among Binghamton’s defensemen with 10 goals and 35 assists for 45 points. He also finished tied for second in plus-minus with his plus-24 rating, and was a mid-season selection for the PlanetUSA squad at the AHL All-Star Classic.

Volchenkov has played two NHL seasons with Ottawa after originally signing a three-year contract in July of 2002. In two NHL seasons, the Moscow native has four goals, 15 assists and 48 penalty minutes over 76 games. He also added a goal and assist in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Volchenkov was Ottawa’s first selection, 21st overall, in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Schubert, 23, played his third season with the Binghamton Senators in 2004-05. The Munich-born defenseman had 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points — 10 more points than he scored in the his previous two seasons combined. Schubert added 110 penalty minutes in 76 games last season, and also contributed two goals and as many assists in six playoff games.

Schubert has recorded 14 goals and 40 assists for 54 points in 216 games with the B-Sens over the last three seasons. The Senators’ fourth-round pick, 127th overall, in the 2001 draft has represented Germany in international competition, most recently at the 2005 World Championships.

Neil, 26, joined Binghamton on Mar. 2, 2005, for a late push in the 2004-05 season and playoffs. In 22 regular-season games with the B-Sens, he recorded 10 points (4g, 6a) and 132 penalty minutes. Neil also added two points (1g, 1a) and 26 penalty minutes in six playoff games.

In three NHL seasons in Ottawa (2001-04), the Markdale, Ont., native had 43 points (24g, 19a) and 572 penalty minutes in 222 regular-season games.