3 Senators Hot Takes for 2022-23

The Ottawa Senators have been busy this offseason, acquiring serious offensive talent and retooling in net. However, the Canadian Tire Centre franchise is not alone: the Eastern Conference is stacked with world-class skaters and features a handful of Stanley Cup contenders.

As a result, 2022-23 will provide further clarity on whether Ottawa’s rebuild is truly ‘done’. They finished last season 27 points behind the Washington Capitals, occupiers of the second wildcard spot, and face an uphill battle to make the playoffs this time around.

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

But there is optimism in the air in Ottawa thanks to general manager Pierre Dorion’s productive summer. Finally, the club’s young core will be surrounded by high-end producers, causing expectations to rise. While the past few years have been uninspiring, anything could happen next season. With that said, let’s put three Senators’ hot takes to the test to see which might come true.

Ottawa’s Top-Six Will Outscore Toronto’s Top-Six

Earlier this summer, an extremely spicy topic took hold of social media: will Ottawa’s top-six outscore their counterparts on the Toronto Maple Leafs? It is a long shot but not impossible. Following the acquisition of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat, their top two forward lines are packed with talent and combined for more than 350 points last season:

Brady TkachukJosh NorrisDrake Batherson
Alex DeBrincatTim StützleClaude Giroux
2021-22 Points: 367  Ottawa Senators, Forecast Top-Six

However, the Maple Leafs’ sextet was even more prolific than their peers in Ottawa. Also of note: Auston Matthews scooped up the Hart Trophy, while Michael Bunting emerged as a shocking finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Michael BuntingAuston MatthewsMitch Marner
Alex KerfootJohn TavaresWilliam Nylander
2021-22 Points: 473 Toronto Maple Leafs, Forecast Top-Six

Ultimately, the prospect of this hot take coming to fruition hinges on regression in Toronto. There has been plenty of talk about whether John Tavares should start next season on the wing, with question marks also hanging over Bunting’s ability to repeat last season’s heroics.

Will the Maple Leafs’ top-six accumulate 473 points next season, especially if Matthews’ scoring clip cools? Possibly not, but that does not necessarily mean the Senators will vault over their Ontarian rivals. It will take a herculean effort from Ottawa’s second line to close the gap, with Stützle under pressure to deliver a breakout season – but more on him later…

Jake Sanderson Will Win the Calder Memorial Trophy

In the context of peak hot-takery, suggesting that Jake Sanderson will win the Calder is pretty mild. He is the Senators’ top prospect and is set to make his professional debut in the fall. Moreover, the former fifth overall pick arrives in Ottawa highly touted after an impressive sophomore season in the NCAA.

Sanderson made 23 appearances for the University of North Dakota last season, recording 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) while wearing an ‘A’. He also featured for Team USA at the Winter Olympics and recorded an assist in his only appearance at the tournament.

Jake Sanderson USNTDP
Jake Sanderson, USA NTDP (Credit: Rena Laverty)

Despite Dorion’s impressive offseason, Sanderson stepping onto D.J. Smith’s blue line and making a splash would be Ottawa’s biggest development of the summer.

“I was part of a group that drafted Erik Karlsson and Thomas Chabot,” Dorion told TSN 1200 in May. “And I feel that we have someone… that the impact can be as good or better than those two guys. We have something special in Jake.”

Last season, Moritz Seider won the Calder Trophy by delivering crushing hits, moving the puck smartly, and producing 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) in 82 appearances for the Detroit Red Wings. Sanderson will be in the hunt if he can make a similar impression in his rookie year.

Tim Stützle Will Finish the Season with More Points Than Games

Stützle is on the rise. The former third overall pick was a standout performer for the Senators last season, recording 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 79 appearances. It was his second go-around in the NHL and saw him add to the 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) he amassed in 53 outings as a rookie.

In addition to producing more offence, Stützle also changed his position and role last season. He returned to his natural position of centre, took on penalty-killing responsibilities, and increased his average time on ice from 15:44 to 18:25.

Related: Senators’ Tim Stützle Must Break New Ground in 2022-23

“He got forced into [moving to centre] in a stress-free environment. We were out of [the playoff picture]. So, he was able to do it without a ton of pressure on him,” explained Smith. “And now he’s going to be able to do it with the pressure.”

Since debuting in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in his draft year, the German has demonstrated his ability in bucketloads. He is an elite skater, positionally versatile, and a keen stickhandler.

Tim Stützle Ottawa Senators
Tim Stützle, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In the season ahead, Stützle will have the opportunity to play alongside improved linemates and should record a career-high in points as a result. If he finds chemistry with DeBrincat and Giroux, there is no reason to rule out the possibility that he could finish the campaign with more points than appearances.

Senators Face Crucial Season in 2022-23

It is time for Ottawa’s young stars to step into the spotlight and become serious players in the fight for the playoff positions. Dorion knows it, too.

“I said at the end of the season, we want to play meaningful games late [in 2022-23], and I think we’re one step closer to doing that,” he said after the Alex DeBrincat trade. “Obviously, the rebuild has been going on, we feel we’re in the next phase now.”

The question for the Senators next season is simple: will their positive offseason translate into success on the ice? Time will tell.

Do you see any of these hot takes becoming reality or have any spicy predictions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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