• By: Allen Brown

Nine Players Who Will Help the Senators Break Their Playoff Drought This Season

Ottawa Senators fans haven’t had it easy over the last several years. The team has failed to make the playoffs for the last six seasons, marking the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s history. And if you were to check the gambling odds and potential favourites for playoff bets going into the next season on the top sports betting apps in Ontario, you’d see the Senators aren’t loved by oddsmakers once again.

However, there is a ton of talent in place that could lift this squad out of its drought and into the playoffs. Let’s look at nine players on the team who could play a major role in helping the Senators break their playoff drought next year.

Brady Tkachuk

Brady Tkachuk is the Senators’ captain and a player deserving of his first crack at the playoffs. While his brother dominated in the postseason, Brady has yet to get a taste. He had his best scoring season yet last year, burying 35 goals and adding 48 assists. He plays with an edge and a brutal physicality that would make him ideal for playoff hockey. Tkachuk will be 24 all season this year, still very much entering his prime, and there is no question that he will improve. Any steps forward from him could be massive to the Senators’ chances.

Jakob Chychrun

Senators fans barely got to see their prized trade acquisition in action. Chychrun was injured very quickly after coming to the Senators, a continuation of what has been a problem in his career. But if Chychrun can stay healthy, he has the potential to elevate the defence of the Senators to new levels. He has all the traits a team looks for in a first-pairing defender. He is physical, can move the puck, and has a devastating shot. If Chychrun is back to himself, Senators fans will see first-hand why he was one of the prized acquisitions available on the market. 

Tim Stutzle

For how good Stutzle has been already, he doesn’t get talked about enough. Tim Stutzle is only 21 and has a 90-point season on his resume, and it is scary to think that he is only getting better. He is an excellent playmaker and scored 39 goals last season, and if he continues to shine, it isn’t unreasonable to expect 40 goals and 100 points next season. The Senators locked him up with an eight-year contract, cementing that Stutzle will be a massive component of the team’s future. If Stutzle leads the Senators to the playoffs, he’ll finally get the coverage he deserves.

Claude Giroux

It was certainly unexpected when Claude Giroux signed a three-year contract with the Senators last offseason. Giroux delivered one of his best seasons in a while last year, playing at nearly a point-per-game pace. He brings veteran leadership to the Senators that they have been lacking, and he also is one of their top talents. While Giroux is certainly not young, at 35, he still has good hockey in front of him. The Senators will need him to deliver a similar year next season to give them hope of making a run to the playoffs.

Thomas Chabot

Thomas Chabot has been an excellent puck-moving defenceman throughout his career with the Senators. His best year came in 2019 when he had 55 points and signed an eight-year extension. However, since then, his production has slipped, and injuries have mounted. Chabot is still only 26 and should be entering his prime. If he can bring forward a new best season, where he showcases why the Senators were willing to invest so heavily in him, he raises the team’s ceiling. Chabot is a gifted player who has higher levels to reach. 

Shane Pinto

One of the pleasant surprises of last season was Shane Pinto. Pinto did not see significant hype entering the year, but he was the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for the first month of the season, scoring six goals in eight games. His pace fell off dramatically, and he fined with 20 goals and 15 assists, which still makes for a solid season. If there is another gear Pinto has, he could be a hugely valuable forward for the team with an excellent goalscoring touch. If not, he is already a solid contributor.

 Joonas Korpisalo

The big problem for the Senators has been goaltending. Their three goaltenders who played the most games for them last season had a cumulative save percentage below .900. To address this issue; the team signed Joonas Korpisalo, who has long been a fixture on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Korpisalo has been inconsistent throughout his career, but when he’s on, he’s a major upgrade for the team. Last season, he far outperformed any goaltender the Senators had. With a better goalie, the team has a much more realistic shot of reaching the playoffs.

Josh Norris

 Losing Josh Norris was a big blow to the Senators last season, as he only played in eight games for the team. But he is still a key ingredient for the roster, as in the last full season he played, he scored 35 goals in 66 games. Norris is a dynamic player who has elite goalscoring abilities, and having him back on the roster makes the Senators a deeper and more talented team. Norris is only 24 for all of next season and could reach a new level as a 40-goal scorer for the Sens. This would help make them viable Stanley Cup contenders.

Jake Sanderson

Jake Sanderson looked like the real deal in his first NHL season. The fifth overall pick in 2020, Sanderson showed a lot of upside in his first year in the league. He had 32 points and made the NHL All-Rookie team. Sanderson did not look out of place playing against much older players, and at 21, his best hockey is ahead of him. Another year of growth will likely only mean better hockey from Sanderson, and he has the potential to be an elite first-pairing player. If he reaches that potential early, the Senators will be a force to be reckoned with.

Image: Supplied