Senators have a defensive core that is young, wi..."/> Senators have a defensive core that is young, wi..."/> Senators have a defensive core that is young, wi..."/>

Ottawa Senators 2021-22 Season Predictions: Defence

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 22: Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on April 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 22: Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on April 22, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Senators have a defensive core that is young, with plenty of potential

The Ottawa Senators enter the 2021-22 season with a ton of room to grow on the back end, but with some forward progress, this group could outperform expectations.

Thomas Chabot

2021-22 Season Prediction: 80 GP, 12G-52A-64P

Chabot is the Senators franchise defenceman and a significant building block for the franchise as they near the conclusion of their rebuild. The way Chabot navigates the ice so calmly using his smooth skating stride and high hockey IQ, he is a tremendous playmaker from the blue line and he should get plenty of opportunity as the quarterback of the Senators top powerplay unit.

Despite not having gaudy point totals over the last couple seasons (39p in 71gp 2019-20, 31p in 49 gp 2020-21), Chabot still creates a ton of offense and his lack of box score production relates more to his environment, one that is fastly improving.

Look for Chabot to be a premier offensive defenceman in the NHL for the next decade and more.

Artem Zub

2021-22 Season Prediction: 80 GP, 6G-20A-26P, 2 Shootout goals

With Zub’s promotion to the top-pairing at the start of the season, it’s tough to see how the Chabot-Zub pairing could possibly fail, Zub’s steadying presence for Chabot seems like a match made in heaven. Zub is never going to be a guy to put up huge offensive numbers, his reserved style doesn’t allow that, but when he is given the opportunity, he has the ability to cash in. Points should come at a fair rate due to the luxury of playing with Chabot, but expecting Zub to exceed 30+ points is highly unlikely. If Zub can establish himself as Chabot’s permanent partner, this season isn’t anything but a success for the 26-year-old Russian defenceman.

Michael Del Zotto

2021-22 Season Prediction: 52 GP, 4G-9A-13P

Del Zotto entered the season as the favourite to play on the “shutdown” pairing alongside veteran Senators defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, however, Del Zotto was scratched for the Senators first two games, but now he seems to have settled into his role, having played in team’s last game versus Dallas. Despite being an offensive-minded defenceman at the beginning of his career, Del Zotto hasn’t been able to keep up in that role in the league, now receiving tough matchups and scattered second unit powerplay time, the point totals shouldn’t jump off the board. There’s no guarantee that Del Zotto spends the entire season with Ottawa either, when Jake Sanderson turns pro after his sophomore season at the University of North Dakota Del Zotto will have a tough time finding a role.

Nikita Zaitsev

2021-22 Season Prediction: 80 GP, 2G-13A-15P

The 29-year old defenceman out of Moskva, Russia has had a less than ideal start to his career in Ottawa, he spent two seasons with Thomas Chabot, but was more of an inconvenience than an actual supportive partner in most cases. Not all is bad with Zaitsev, he did improve last season and his 17 points are the most he’s had since 2016-17 in Toronto, but his style just doesn’t compliment the Senators franchise defenceman.

With heavy defensive deployment and limited offensive opportunities, offensive production won’t be coming with the Russian defenceman, expect Zaitsev to be defending for the majority of game situations.

Nick Holden

2021-22 Season Prediction: 60 GP, 3G-8A-11P

There have been consistent glaring reviews of Holden’s play, particularly in regards to his steadiness throughout training camp and through the first three games of the regular season. At 34-years of age, and having just played 17 regular-season games last year, it’s unlikely to expect second-pairing minutes or a full 82-game season from the veteran defenceman, but quality bottom-pairing minutes would be extremely valuable.


Now established with Josh Brown as they form a big-bodied bottom-pairing, if Holden can be described as “solid” or “reliable” by the conclusion of the season, it has to be viewed as a success.

Josh Brown

2021-22 Season Predictions: 68 GP, 1G-5A-6P

The improvement in Brown’s game from the beginning of last season up to this point has been very noticeable, he’s playing a much more simplified, direct game so far this season that seems to be working. While I’m still not the biggest Josh Brown fan (I’d rather Brannstrom), he has been solid and he brings a physical aspect to the game that D.J. Smith loves. Limited offence and bottom-pairing minutes should be expected from Brown, he’s a nice depth piece at this point.

Victor Mete

2021-22 Season Predictions: 26 GP, 1G-5A-6P

After starting the season on the second-pairing with Nikita Zaitsev, Mete’s obvious struggles in game 2 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs were obvious, and at this point, it looks like he will be the 7th defenceman for the time being. In the middle of a battle for ice time with Del Zotto, the leash for Mete is short and if he draws back into the lineup and struggles it could spell the chances of Mete being a regular.

Erik Brannstrom

2021-22 Season Predictions: 28 GP, 3G-12A-15P

To a lot of people’s dismay (including myself), the assignment of Brannstrom back to the AHL was a bit of disappointing news coming out of the opening of the season. At this point, the Senators seem to be in no rush to play Brannstrom, and it’s quite obvious at this point that the coaching staff would prefer not to play him, and this is after a very strong training camp from the 22-year-old defenceman.


Rumours have been swirling that the diminutive defenceman has been on the trade block, and at this point, it makes sense, as a future between the two parties seems unlikely. He may nab games in the NHL to promote his value, but as long as D.J. Smith is the coach of the Ottawa Senators, Brannstrom’s playstyle will never be consistent in the lineup.