Find Thomas Chabot a Partner
Last year didn’t go as planned for the Senators’ franchise defenceman as he finished the season with just 39 points in 71 games, lower production than many would have predicted. This is hardly Chabot’s fault though, the teams leading scorer Brady Tkachuk finished with just 44 points on the season, goals weren’t exactly coming in bunches.
The majority of Chabot’s struggles can be associated with his primary defensive partner, Nikita Zaitsev. Whenever he is paired with Zaitsev his metrics significantly worsen, Zaitsev drags down Chabot more than any other defenceman on the Senators roster.
Ottawa ends up spending way more time in their own end and this is extremely counter-productive since Chabot’s strength is in the offensive zone and to get the most out of their best player he shouldn’t be spending most of his time defending.
Look at how different this heat map looks than the one with Zaitsev:
Chabot’s expected goals (xG) goes up an insane 34% and he is now a huge threat in the offensive zone and in turn, is much better on defence because the team has to do much less defending when he has a competent partner.
It appears the Senators don’t have an answer as of now as they’ve hinted at Erik Gudbranson sliding in with Chabot which should produce better results than Zaitsev but Gudbranson is hardly an “ideal” option. The Senators should turn to Josh Brown, the new addition in the offseason via trade from Florida has some untapped potential that other in house options such as Gudbranson and Zaitsev don’t have.
A wild-card who could surprise is Artyom Zub, the Russian who was signed in the offseason and Chabot has already endorsed Zub as “impressive” from their pre-camp skates. If the Senators still can’t find a capable partner this season to pair with their star defenceman they will have some looking around to do in the offseason.