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Which player has exceeded expectations so far this season?!

January 7, 2023, 6:13 AM ET [298 Comments]
Kevin Francis
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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As we approach the mid-way point of the regular season, I thought it would be interesting to hear everyone's thoughts on which player has impressed or disappointed each Sens' fan so far at the 38-game mark of the season.

Let's start with the goaltenders and the blue line. The next blog will be dedicated to the forwards. Although a large amount of the fanbase thought it would a 1A/1B scenario with this goalie tandem, the last 20 games have made the argument more that, one is the starter, while the other goalie is the backup.

Anton Forsberg - Many thought he would shoulder a little more of the load, but since Talbot returned from injury, Forsberg has only started 5 of the last 21 games but has looked much better in his last two starts. I would say he has slightly underperformed at this point in this season, compared to the numbers he put up last year. He could turn it around in the second half of the season.

Cam Talbot - After missing the first month of the season, Talbot has slowly inserted himself as the Sens' number one goalie. He has started 20 of 28 games since returning from injury while going 11-3-1 over his last 15 games. Many fans are hoping Sens GM Pierre Dorion gets him signed to an extension before the trade deadline. I would say Talbot has performed above expectations at this point in the season.

Defense - Must have played at least 10 games.
Thomas Chabot - He got off to a slow start in terms of his production, then the concussion slowed him down a bit too, but since returning from injury, he has been very solid in all areas posting 20 points in just 33 games. He continues to log the most TOI at over 26 minutes a night and is a -6. Chabot has already matched his goal output of last year with 7 goals and could surpass his best season of 14 goals back during the 2018-19 season. He posted 4G, 6A in December. I would say he has definitely lived up to expectations, sitting 6th in scoring on the team.

Jake Sanderson - What else can you say about the rookie so far this season? He has beyond exceeded expectations while not missing a single game so far, scoring 2G, 12A while averaging over 21 min. a night on the blue line. He's a +1 and 8th in scoring on the team. He should be near the top of the voting for the Calder Trophy come the end of the season if he keeps up his incredible play. Where would this team be without Sanderson this season?

Artem Zub - Although he has only played 17 games, he has put up decent numbers offensively while being a +1. He averages almost 22 minutes a night and is the Sens' best defensive defender. It's no wonder this team struggled at times with him out of the lineup. To have a healthy Zub for the rest of the season will go a long way in determining if Ottawa is in the playoff contention come the trade deadline.

Travis Hamonic - He has put up decent numbers offensively 3G, 4A but his -7 hasn't helped the team at times but has averaged almost 19 minutes a night on the blueline. He has chewed up valuable minutes for the team while giving Sanderson a veteran defense partner. His physical presence has been welcomed as many players on this team's defense don't mix it up much. I would say he has met expectations as he's playing further up the lineup than what he should be due to injuries and depth on the Sens' defense.

Nick Holden - He has done what has been asked of him and at times played further up the lineup due to injuries while holding his own. Holden has chipped in with a few points offensively and is only a -4 while logging over 16 minutes a night of ice time, in 33 games. I would say he has lived up to expectations so far this season.

Erik Brannstrom - After missing a few games recently due to injury, he has played in 33 games and is a -1 but has put only 3A so far this season. Much more is expected of him offensively as he has seen time on the PP but over the last month or so, his ice time has dropped to just 12 minutes a night but overall is averaging just under 16 minutes a game. Brannstrom hasn't lived up to expectations this season and one has to wonder if he's expendable at the trade deadline with other prospects looking to knock the door down for NHL games.

Nikita Zaitsev - After having a horrendous start to the season when the team didn't win while he was in the lineup, Zaitsev has settled down over the last month or so while averaging just over 16 minutes of TOI. His -6 is a reflection of his below-average defensive game and is on pace for the worst plus/minus and point production of his career while averaging the least amount of TOI during his 8 year career. Safe to say, he hasn't lived up to expectations this season.

Other players that have suited up on defense so far this year, JBD - 9 games, Jacob Larsson 3 games, Dillon Heatherington 3 games, and Lassi Thomson 2 games.

Who would you say has performed above expectations or not met expectations so far this season?! Thoughts/comments are welcomed.

**How do you see the next 2 home games playing out for Ottawa against Seattle tonight and Nashville on Monday night? Do you expect the Senators to grab 4 points to finish off a perfect four-game homestand? **

Thanks for reading.
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