It’s safe to say that Josh Norris’ rise to AHL stardom in the 2019-20 season was unexpected.
One of the much maligned “six assets,” acquired in the Erik Karlsson trade with San Jose in September 2018, Norris has completely blown away expectations with the Belleville Senators this season.
The former 19th overall pick in 2017 and University of Michigan standout is currently leading all AHL rookies in points, and sits at ninth place in the entire league, on the back of a twelve-game point streak. With 20 (!!!) goals and 17 assists in 38 games, it’s safe to say nobody saw this coming. The Belleville Senators have benefited from the addition of young scorers like Norris, as they sit 1st place in a very tight and stacked North Division, and 6th place in the entire AHL.
There’s no question that Norris has benefited from playing with the AHL’s leading point scorer Drake Batherson, who has 13 goals and 28 assists this season. However, it’s encouraging that while Batherson has been summoned for his latest appearance in the NHL, Norris has maintained his scoring pace, with 4 goals and 4 assists in the seven games since.
In this recent stretch, Norris has played with fellow AHL rookies Alex Formenton and Jonathan Davidsson. While the Ottawa Senators have had a rotating cast of Belleville players featured throughout the season, Norris has remained a staple at the AHL level, despite the frequent transactions and carousel of linemates.
Vitaly Abramov (2 games), Drake Batherson, (7 games) and Logan brown (23 games) are just a few of the players that Senators fans have seen make the jump this season, and with his recent play, many are expecting Josh Norris will soon be among them. It’s unrealistic to expect him to be a go-to NHL player down the stretch, but at the very least he should be a part of the call-up rotation.
With the trade deadline looming, Ottawa is going to presumably have lots of bodies on the way out, namely Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Ennis, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Borowiecki. These roster spots will need to be filled.
Add in the non-stop chatter about attendance issues, and years of general despair in the fanbase, seeing the big prospects like Josh Norris could bring some more people to the Canadian Tire Centre.
While the priority should remain keeping Belleville competitive ahead of a lengthy playoff run, it’s time that Pierre Dorion and the Ottawa Senators show the fanbase more of what’s coming. Let’s give Josh Norris a shot in the NHL.