In the 2022/2023 NHL season, Jake Sanderson, the highly anticipated rookie defenseman for the Senators, made a remarkable impact with his outstanding play. In this article, I will delve into the key elements of Sanderson’s game, highlight his notable achievements, and discuss what I expect to see from him in the future.
Defensive Prowess and Positioning
Jake Sanderson showcased his defensive prowess right from the start of his rookie season. His positional awareness and ability to read the game allowed him to excel in shutting down opponents and limiting scoring chances. Sanderson’s solid defensive play earned him significant ice time and the trust of the coaching staff. It didn’t take long for Sanderson to become one of the most relied upon players for the Ottawa Senators, and he was expected to play in all situations given his toolkit was already rock solid.
Impressive Skating and Mobility
Sanderson’s skating ability and agility were arguably his most crucial assets throughout the season. His strong stride, agility, and speed enabled him to keep up with the fastest forwards in the league while his edge work was particularly helpful in allowing him to stay with his man while skating backwards. Sanderson’s smooth transitions and quick pivots allowed him to effectively join the rush and contribute offensively when the opportunity presented itself and he was almost never caught on the wrong side of the puck given his elite speed.
Breakout Passes and Offensive Contributions
While Sanderson’s primary focus was on defense, he demonstrated remarkable offensive instincts and contributed to the Senators’ attack. His exceptional breakout passes and accurate long-range outlets facilitated smooth transitions and generated scoring opportunities for his teammates. Sanderson’s ability to jump into the rush intelligently provided an added dimension to Ottawa’s offensive play. Sanderson also took a step on the special teams units where he became the quarterback of the number one power play unit towards the end of the season. He did not look uncomfortable in this role and was quite effective as a facilitator on the blue line.
Statistics and Impact
In his rookie season, Sanderson’s contributions went beyond traditional statistics. While his basic statistics, such as goals, assists, points, etc provide a glimpse of his impact, it is essential that fans look to advanced metrics and analytics to fully appreciate his performance.
As you can see from the chart, Sanderson posted a quite impressive rookie season showing that he is in both the 65th and 57th percentile of players for both even strength offence in defence. Some of his most effective areas of his game include zone entries and exits because of his elite skating (88th and 82nd percentiles) and defensive zone retrievals as well as penalty differential (94th and 100th percentiles). These all point towards Sanderson being a high end extremely disciplined two way defender who is once again only a rookie. Worth noting is that Sanderson still posted an impressive 4 goals, 28 assists for 32 points in 77 games.
Praise from Coaches and Experts
Sanderson’s exceptional play did not go unnoticed by his coaches and experts in the NHL community. Numerous sources lauded his defensive skills, maturity, and poise beyond his years. His ability to handle high-pressure situations and make smart decisions consistently was commended by teammates, coaches, and analysts.
Expectations for 2023/2024
Looking ahead to the 2023/2024 season, my expectations for Jake Sanderson are high. With his strong rookie campaign as a foundation, Sanderson has the potential to develop into one of the premier defensemen in the league. His continued growth in all aspects of the game, along with his dedication and work ethic, will undoubtedly contribute to his success. I am hoping to see Sanderson have another rock solid defensive year, while also being in the 5-10 goal range and 40-50 point range.
In his rookie season, Jake Sanderson proved to be a valuable asset for the Ottawa Senators with his exceptional defensive play, mobility, and offensive contributions. As he continues to refine his skills and gain experience, the future looks bright for Sanderson. Senators fans can eagerly anticipate his continued development and the significant impact he will have on the team’s success. As for this season, he earns himself a no doubt A+ grade.