Welcome to part 2 of my Sens mock awards! In the previous edition, I named who I believed were the rightful winners of Defender Of The Year, Best Goaltender, Most Dedicated, and Clutch Player Of The Year. If you would like to check out that article, you can check it out below.
In this article, I will be naming who I have decided to be the winners of the following awards. Most Valuable Senator, Most Improved Senator, and Rookie Of The Year. Similar to my last article, I will discuss how I came to my decisions and list some honorable mentions. With that, let’s begin discussing our award winners.
Rookie Of The Year
The first award I will be discussing today is the Sens rookie of the year. This award was a no-brainer, I looked at the Senators candidates and there was a clear leader in their rookie of the year race.
Winner: Jake Sanderson
Honorable Mentions: Shane Pinto, Ridly Greig
I am thrilled to announce Jake Sanderson as the well-deserved winner of my “Rookie of the Year” award. Sanderson’s exceptional debut season showcased his maturity, skill, and impact on both ends of the ice. He has already won my “Defender Of The Year” award, so this decision is to nobody’s shock. With an impressive 32 points in 77 games, he emerged as the second-highest rookie scorer on the Sens, just behind Shane Pinto. Sanderson’s points however are quite obviously more impressive than Pinto’s given he is a defender who began the year as a defensive specialist.
As I discussed in part 1 of this series, Sanderson displayed remarkable discipline on the ice. The defender accumulated only 12 penalty minutes throughout the season. This allowed him to be a very trustworthy player for DJ Smith no matter the situation the team was in.
Also important to re-discuss is that Sanderson’s defensive contributions were nothing short of outstanding. Leading the team in shot blocks with 147 and defense in takeaways with 33. He was also consistently able to shut down opponent rushes, and stay with his man one on one because of his elite-level skating.
When using the eye test with Sanderson as well as counting stats and advanced stats, he was the most impactful rookie on the Ottawa Senators.
Most Improved Senator
For this award, I looked at the player who I believed had the greatest jump in overall play this season. I weighted their results from previous years, as well as any particularly noticeable developments in their play style.
Winner: Tim Stützle
Honorable Mentions: Brady Tkachuk, Erik Brannstrom
To nobody’s surprise, I have named Tim Stützle as the clear winner of the “Most Improved Player” award. Stützle’s remarkable progression from 2021/2022 to 2022/2023 was nothing short of incredible. Stützle posted a ridiculous 90 points in 78 games this year increasing his point production by an outstanding 32 points in one less game.
Stützle’s improvement extended beyond his offensive success. He demonstrated substantial growth in his defensive game, earning the trust of the coaching staff to play on the penalty kill. This increased responsibility did not rattle the young center as Stützle developed into a much more well-rounded player.
Stützle’s advanced statistics further solidify his case for the Most Improved Player award. His expected goals increased from 26 to 33, indicating an improvement in his ability to generate high-quality scoring chances. Additionally, his takeaways increased from 38 to an impressive 61, reflecting his enhanced ability to read opponent’s plays. Stützle’s Corsi percentage also improved from 57% to 59%, showcasing his positive impact on puck possession and offensive zone play.
Another exceptional statistic that stands out is Stützle’s cost per point, which was the best in the NHL at $10,277. This showed the sheer value that Stützle brought to the Ottawa Senators as the most efficient point scorer in the NHL.
Most Valuable Senator
This was the most difficult award to decide, it was a 50/50 between Tkachuk and Stützle. When coming up with my decision, the main factor that persuaded me to pick the captain was the leadership qualities he brought to the team.
Winner: Brady Tkachuk
Honorable Mention: Tim Stützle, Claude Giroux
The final winner to announce is Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk who has earned my vote for the “Most Valuable Senator” award. Tkachuk’s impact on the team extended far beyond what is shown on the stat sheet. Tkachuk is a true competitor and a great leader who on multiple occasions was able to will the team to victory.
Tkachuk had an impressive 35 goals (T-2nd On Team) and 83 points (2nd On Team) this season. However, Tkachuk’s value to the team goes beyond his point production. He served as the heartbeat of the Senators, constantly bringing unmatched intensity that inspired his teammates.
Leading the team with an impressive 242 hits, Tkachuk demonstrated his physicality and his ability to force opponents into paying attention when he is on the ice. His willingness to engage physically and his tenacious style provided an edge to the Ottawa Senators intensity each game. Tkachuk was also able to post an impressive Corsi percentage of 63%, tied for the highest on the team alongside Kleven.
In addition to his offensive and physical game, Tkachuk also displayed his willingness to stand up for his teammates. Tkachuk was involved in eight fights throughout the season which was second on the team to Austin Watson. While Tkachuk’s production may have been slightly less than that of Tim Stützle, his overall impact and intangibles made him a truly crucial asset to the team’s success.