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The Ottawa Senators as a whole, had a fairly successful season. This was in large part because of breakout seasons from Sens including Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, Jake Sanderson, etc. But some players had disappointing seasons relatively speaking. In this article, I will discuss why I believe these players could be in for a big bounce-back season.
*Josh Norris is not mentioned in this article because it was difficult to gauge his season from the small sample size.
The first candidate to discuss is defenceman Thomas Chabot. Chabot has been terrific overall in his time with Ottawa, but he seemed different this season. Many fans were quick to point out that he didn’t look comfortable, and often appeared sluggish. This was foreign to Senators fans, who are used to seeing the high-level dynamic play of the team’s #1 defenceman.
This season, Chabot had 11 goals and 30 assists for 41 points in 68 games. On paper, these numbers look quite solid, although they don’t tell the whole story of his season. He was a turnover machine this year, often costing the Senators in the defensive zone. On offense, he seemed to be a step behind many of the top six players.
Fans have also noted that he has been overplayed by DJ Smith in his time with the Senators. For years he was the only high-end defenceman the Senators had, and thus they relied on him in almost every situation. As I and many other fans believe, this has burnt him out and negatively affected his abilities on the ice.
However, with the new Senators top-four defense, there is no longer a need to constantly rely on him. They have other top-end talents like Jake Sanderson and Jacob Chychrun who can help balance the minutes/workload. With the new support on the backend, I am confident he will drastically improve his performance next season.
Also, be sure to check out my full review of his season.
There is no sugarcoating that Mathieu Joseph was disappointing this season. Joseph scored just 3 goals and 15 assists in 56 games. At five-on-five, he was a non-factor who didn’t score one even-strength goal the entire season. Joseph was a player that management made a bet on when they gave him a four-year $2.95 million contract last off-season.
Mathieu Joseph is a player that has the talent to put up points at the NHL level and has shown an ability to do so in the past. Just look at last season, where he had 12 points in just 11 games with the Senators after the Nick Paul trade. For the Senators to take the next step in competing, they need him to get back to that level of play.
Last season, Joseph spent most of his ice time playing with Dylan Gambrell as his centre. this year, if the roster is healthy, he will have a much more offensively talented centre in Shane Pinto. With Pinto as his new linemate, there is hope that he will be able to re-kindle the offense he once had.
The final bounce-back candidate in this article is Drake Batherson. This past season, Batherson had 22 goals and 40 assists for 62 points in 82 games. These numbers may seem great, but Batherson was quite ineffective at five-on-five and was a liability in the defensive zone with a -35 on the year.
Batherson had a few obstacles stacked against him this season. The first of these was being placed with unfamiliar linemates. He played most of the season with Alex DeBrincat and Shane Pinto, neither of whom he played with last season. The second obstacle was that he was still recovering from his high ankle sprain suffered the year prior. Batherson was quoted as saying he didn’t feel 100% until the tail end of this season.
Batherson is one of the most offensively gifted players on the Senators. He has elite play-making skills, and an elite shot, making him a dangerous offensive threat. On the power play, Batherson is elite and is among the league’s very best in terms of production. He needs to improve his five-on-five scoring, and I’m confident he will do so next season.
The return of Josh Norris should hopefully help Batherson reach the All-Star level that he was at in the 2021 season. This mixed with the fact that he will hopefully be playing at 100%, should help him improve his play next year. People often forget that before his injury, Batherson was leading the Senators in points at an over-point-per-game pace on a much weaker Senators team.
All the signs point towards an incredible season for Drake Batherson and the Senators.