May 30, 2023

The Ottawa Senators are heating up. Despite the injuries they have had to endure, they are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and are slowly crawling their way back into the playoff picture. They sit seven points back of the second wild-card spot, which belongs to the New York Islanders, although if they maintain this pace throughout December, the Senators could continue to climb the standings.

These three players have been valuable to the team throughout the ups and downs of the 2022-23 season. Their consistent play has been one of the biggest reasons for Ottawa’s winning record.

Related: Senators’ Gradual Improvement in December is Noticeable

Honourable mentions include Alex DeBrincat, who has been a consistent point producer, and Tim Stützle is above a point-per-game pace.

Jake Sanderson

The former fifth overall pick of the 2020 NHL Draft is in the midst of a breakout season and finds himself in the Calder Trophy race just 31 games into the season. He has 12 points and has had no issues transitioning to the NHL level.

Despite injuries plaguing the defence core, Jake Sanderson has found himself on a pairing with Travis Hamonic, and they have been effective in the Senators’ top four. Thomas Chabot missed time, Artem Zub is currently missing time with an injury, and Sanderson has been able to step up in their absence. He is averaging 21:00 of ice time per game and has played well in those minutes, despite being a 20-year-old rookie.

Jake Sanderson Ottawa Senators
Jake Sanderson, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sanderson will have to keep up his strong play at even strength and continue to be a positive impact player on the power play. He absolutely has the talent to be a Calder Trophy finalist and is well on his way to becoming a franchise cornerstone.

Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux has been one of the best off-season pickups in the NHL, and he continues to be a steady, productive presence within the top six. His 29 points in 31 games are the third-highest mark on the team, behind Brady Tkachuk and DeBrincat.

Stützle is still working his way back from an injury, and Josh Norris is set to be re-evaluated in 2023. During this time, Giroux has stepped up, scoring big goals like the game-winner on Dec. 17 against the Detroit Red Wings. He has brought his “clutch gene” over to the Senators, which they have desperately missed in recent seasons.

When Giroux signed a three-year contract in the offseason, the Senators knew he was going to provide value on the ice but also as a leader in the locker room. They proved that by naming him an alternate captain, and his leadership has helped guide the young core through a rough stretch of games. Because of his off-ice presence, the Senators are a vastly improved team as we approach the new year.

Brady Tkachuk

Tkachuk is in the middle of a breakout season as captain of the Senators. With 36 points through the first 31 games, he is on pace to smash all of his career highs in goals, assists, and points.

Similar to Giroux, Tkachuk is providing stellar leadership to help boost the culture of the organization. His two-way, physical play is much needed in a top-six full of skilled players, and he has been a solid complementary player to both Stützle and Giroux on the Senators’ top line.

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Money Puck says that across all forward lines in the NHL, with at least 75 minutes played, the Sens’ top line of Tkachuk, Stützle, and Giroux ranks third in expected goals, with a rate of 66.8 percent. They also hold a 58.9 percent Corsi percentage, which is top 15 in the NHL by the same standards.

Players like Chabot, Cam Talbot, and Drake Batherson have been critical to the team’s success, but these three players stand out above the rest. As we approach the midway point of the regular season, the Senators will rely heavily on these players to continue shouldering the load as they attempt to claw back into the playoff race. They have the talent, but staying healthy and performing consistently are the biggest factors to the potential of a 2023 NHL Playoff appearance.

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