Thomas Chabot had a disappointing 2022/2023 season by his own standards. In this article, I will analyze Chabot’s performance, look at his statistics, and discuss the factors that contributed to his underwhelming season. I will also discuss my expectations for Chabot and explain why I am expecting a bounce back from him in the upcoming season.
This season, Chabot had an average TOI (Time On Ice) of 24:58 which is slightly lower than his previous couple of seasons but still quite high overall. By stating this, I am not trying to discredit the fitness level of Chabot, but it quite clearly affects his abilities on the ice. For the past number of seasons now, Chabot has had trouble staying healthy to end the year. While this may be a coincidence, I believe it is a result of Chabot simply playing too much hockey. There was no reason for Chabot to be playing these minutes this season, he was not as effective as Jake Sanderson who played 21:55 a game and the Senators also had Erik Brannstrom who played the best hockey of his career, and he only played 16:07 per game. This ice time could have been distributed in a more balanced manor, and could have potentially saved Chabot’s health as well as allowed him to use more energy in his shifts.
Lack Of Urgency
It was frustrating to watch throughout the season, but there were a number of noticeable moments when Chabot seemed to be playing with less urgency than you would like. Especially from an $8 million defenseman. He appeared to be lacking his usual puck carrying ability from previous seasons, and often seemed like he was unsure of what to do when he had the puck on his stick. This was especially noticeable on the powerplay where Chabot was very slow at making decisions at the top of the umbrella. This led to many shorthanded rushes and a number of shorthanded goals against. Another area of struggle was the defensive lapses on the ice, whether from a lack of effort or simply not knowing where to be, Chabot was fishing the puck out of his net more times than fans would like to see. It is entirely possible that this is in large part due to the heavy workload Chabot had carried over the last couple of seasons. Hopefully, he sees a reduced workload this year, and is more effective in the minutes he plays.
Better Equipped Defensive Partner
One promising aspect for Chabot’s upcoming season is the inevitability that he will be paired up with a better defensive partner. Having a reliable and complementary partner can alleviate some of the workload and provide Chabot with the support he needs to thrive. It is currently up in the air who Chabot will be playing with, although it is quite safe to assume that it will be one of Jakob Chychrun or Artem Zub. Either way, this is a big improvement over Chabot’s previous partners. For the last few seasons, Chabot has played most of his minutes with Chicago Blackhawk, Nikita Zaitsev who is not of the same caliber as Chychrun or Zub. If Chabot is to play with somebody who can cover for him/create on their own, he will be able to play with much more freedom which is where he excels.
More Favourable Matchups
With the addition of Jakob Chychrun as well as the emergence of Jake Sanderson, Chabot should benefit from more favorable matchups on the ice. For the first time really in his career, Chabot will not be relied upon as the #1 defenseman on the team. This means he can spend less time defending against the opposing team’s top lines and can spend more time capitalizing on offensive opportunities. If DJ strategically deploys both Chabot and his partner, the Senators can maximize what he brings to the table. Not to mention, he should still be spending time time with elite forwards at either even strength or on the powerplay while also playing more time against second or third defense pairs.
Strong Bounce Back Candidate
Heading into the 2023/2024 season, there is justified optimism for a bounce back season from Thomas Chabot. I believe that Chabot will rebound and start playing at the elite level he was at before this season. Assuming he is going to play with one of the defenders previously mentioned, I would imagine he will excel without having to worry as much about recovering on defense. One area of concern that I don’t see dramatically improving however is Chabot’s play in the defensive zone. Without new coaching, I imagine we will see similar lackluster results in his own end this year, the hope being that his offense makes his defensive deficiencies worth it.
Overall, it is both my and popular opinion that Thomas Chabot had a disappointing year for a player of his caliber. This season, Chabot had 11 goals, 30 assists for 41 points in 68 games. While the counting stats are solid for a defenseman, you expect more from a player of his ability. Not to mention these points came from someone averaging about 25 minutes a night which is plenty of minutes to get on the scoresheet. With that as well as his defensive game being questionable at times, I am hoping to see a large improvement next season. I believe in Chabot to bounce back but for this season, I have to give him a grade of a C. He had good counting stats but was not the elite player Sens fans expected to see.