This list will be based solely off of on-ice performance this season, regardless of expectations. Norris is not included given his injuries this season but is would be on the list otherwise.
10. Shane Pinto
Shane Pinto had a solid season, scoring a total of 20 goals and 15 assists, for 35 points in 82 games. Pinto showed excellent discipline on the ice, with only 18 penalty minutes throughout the season while drawing 42 against opponents. One of Pinto’s standout skills was his ability to create turnovers, as he managed to accumulate an impressive 38 takeaways. He also demonstrated his proficiency at the faceoff dot, winning 52.1% of his draws. Pinto started the season as the third line centre where he excelled earning rookie of the month for October, but due to the injury to Josh Norris, he was promoted to the second line centre role, where he experiences some growing pains. Pinto was also a key contributor on the powerplay, where he excelled in the bumper position, proving to be an effective second unit threat. Overall, Pinto’s season showcased his versatility and skill and I fully expect him to take a large step forward next season playing in a third line role against weaker competition.
9. Artem Zub
Artem Zub’s season was somewhat of a mixed bag. While he demonstrated his defensive prowess and provided stability to the back end of his team, his offensive output was somewhat underwhelming, scoring only 3 goals and 7 assists for a total of 10 points in 53 games. Zub’s performance was hampered by injuries, which caused him to miss some games, resulting in a slight decline from his previous season. Despite this, Zub remained one of the team’s most effective right-handed defenders, consistently shutting down opposing offenses and providing solid defensive support for his team. Looking ahead to next season, fans hope to see an improvement in Zub’s overall play on the ice, as the newly extended defender looks to return to full form.
8. Drake Batherson
Drake Batherson had a strong offensive showing this season, scoring a total of 22 goals and 40 assists, for 62 points in 82 games. Batherson was particularly effective on the powerplay, where he scored 13 of his goals. However, Batherson struggled defensively, which was reflected in his -35 plus-minus rating, the 5th worst in the NHL this season. It is hard to forget the injury Batherson suffered last season, a severe ankle sprain, which undoubtedly impacted his performance. However, he began to feel 100% healthy towards the end of the season where he looked a step quicker. With his health and confidence restored, fans will be eager to see how Batherson performs next season and I fully expect him to take a step forward.
7. Thomas Chabot
Thomas Chabot’s 2022/2023 season was marked by some notable ups and downs. While he was able to put up quite solid offensive numbers with 11 goals and 30 assists for a total of 41 points in 68 games, he appeared to be slower and more fatigued this season. Chabot also struggled in his own end, making defensive mistakes that resulted in costly turnovers and goals against. He continued to play heavy minutes, averaging 24:58 per game, but this may have contributed to his fatigue and lack of consistency. Chabot showed flashes of his impressive skillset, but these moments were not as frequent as in previous seasons. Unfortunately, Chabot was unable to finish the season due to injury, which could be a concerning trend for a player who has been consistently overplayed in recent years. While this may all sound negative, I do still believe Chabot will return to his elite level play with a reduced workload and with the emergence of Jake Sanderson and the acquisition of Jakob Chychrun he will no longer be the ‘only’ elite defender on the team.
6. Jakob Chychrun
The newest member of the Senators defense, Jakob Chychrun had a strong season scoring 9 goals and 24 assists for a total of 31 points in 48 games. After being traded from Arizona, Chychrun took some time to adjust to his new team, but he quickly found his footing and showed flashes of brilliance, particularly against Columbus where he scored a beautiful wrister for his first as a member of the Sens. Chychrun is known for his strong two-way game, demonstrating his defensive skills with a particularly strong stick on the back end. He also possesses an elite shot, which he was able to showcase throughout the season. Chychrun proved to be the missing piece the team needed in the top four, providing valuable support to his defensive partners and contributing to the team’s overall success. I hope to see Chychrun as a right side partner for Chabot this season where he can shut down opponents and move the puck effectively while also allowing Chabot to roam free.
5. Alex Debrincat
Now for possibly the most polarizing Sen, Alex Debrincat. The Cat had a productive 2022/2023 season, scoring 27 goals and 39 assists for a total of 66 points in 82 games. However, he struggled with consistency throughout the season, and appeared hesitant to use his elite shot at times. Despite these struggles, Debrincat remained an impactful player in the team’s top-six, and fits the core extremely well. Debrincat’s future with the team is uncertain, as contract negotiations loom, but he remains an elite player in the eyes of many, and I believe if he wants to remain in Ottawa, he could command a contract upwards of 8.5 million per season long-term. While he had a down year compared to his previous seasons, Debrincat was still able to put up solid point totals and contribute to his team’s success, showing how truly elite of a player he is and will be for the next decade. While some may find this rating too high, I believe it is fair when removing expectation bias from the equation.
4. Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux had an outstanding first season with the Sens, scoring 35 goals and 44 assists for a total of 79 points in 82 games. He fit in well with his new team right away and quickly found chemistry with teammates Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle. At the age of 35, Giroux was able to score a career high in goals, demonstrating his skill and experience on the ice. He proved to be a valuable leader for the young talent on the team, and his ability to win faceoffs was a crucial asset for his team. Giroux exceeded expectations, making a significant impact on the team’s success throughout the season. He fits well within the team’s playing style and is a valuable asset on and off the ice. Hopefully Giroux can continue his elite level of play into the next couple of seasons… and post-seasons with the team.
3. Jake Sanderson
Jake Sanderson had an outstanding rookie season, scoring 4 goals and 28 assists for a total of 32 points in 77 games. He fit in well with his new team right away and quickly demonstrated his elite 2-way game on the ice. Sanderson seamlessly transitioned from college to the NHL and rapidly rose up the team’s depth chart. He has possibly the second most potential on the team behind Tim Stutzle and exceeded my expectations for him significantly. Despite his impressive performance, Sanderson was not nominated for the Calder Trophy, which recognizes the league’s best rookie player even though I believe he made a very strong case. Sanderson could potentially serve as the team’s number one defender as soon as next season and is poised to become a cornerstone of the team’s future success. The sky is the limit for the gifted defender and we have just seen the beginning of what Jake Sanderson will become.
2. Brady Tkachuk
Brady Tkachuk had an exceptional season, scoring 35 goals and 48 assists for a total of 83 points in 82 games. He demonstrated elite leadership ability and led by example, particularly in the two-game series against Detroit where he shouted “who wants it!” at the Red Wings bench after all but eliminating them from the playoffs. Tkachuk took yet another great step offensively this season, and was arguably the team MVP for the majority of the season. He played extremely well with Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux, forming a dominant top line. Tkachuk is known for always dragging his team into battle and playing with a tenacity that is unmatched by most players and that rang true once again this season. He exceeded my expectations for him significantly and seems highly motivated to make the playoffs next season, music to the ears of Sens fans.
1. Tim Stutzle
Tim Stutzle had a massive breakout season in 2022/2023, scoring 39 goals and tallying 51 assists for a total of 90 points in 78 games. He turned into one of the league’s best players this season and was definitely deserving of the #1 spot on this list. Stutzle’s offensive and defensive games both took a huge leap, and he played exceptionally well alongside Brady Tkachuk and Claude Giroux. His extreme competitiveness and exciting style of play made him the most thrilling Senator to watch on a nightly basis. Stutzle’s underrated shooting ability was on full display this season as he shot the puck more often, adding a new dimension to his game. The 8-year contract extension he signed prior to the start of the season already seems well worth it, as he has established himself as one of the league’s brightest young super-stars. Stutzle has sky-high potential and is on track to become one of the very best players in the league. His rapid development has solidified his status as the best player from the 2020 NHL draft class, and he has already become a fan favorite in Ottawa.