17. Max Lajoie (Reader Rank: 19, Last Year: 17)
Before I go any further, I would like to remind you all of this great Maxime Lajoie moment.
The speedy young defenseman was a fifth round pick in 2016 and has acquired the reputation of being an extremely smart puck moving defenseman who is solid at both ends. His skills include his skating abilities and being able to read plays at the perfect time. He has ample playoff experience in his junior career and impressed throughout his career in the WHL.
Lajoie’s time in the NHL started like a firework; he became only the second defenseman in Senators history to score in his first game (after Wade Redden). He also added an assist in that same game and it seemed that the training camp surprise was going to give us quite the show. The problem is, defensemen tend to be a bit more fragile in terms of development and the Sens were a bit reckless with Lajoie both in terms of ice time and partners.
Lajoie ended up scoring 15 points in 56 games played; probably 40 games too many. While Lajoie displayed signs of maturity and skill, he still needed proper support. Being paired with Cody Ceci was not doing him any favors and things kept getting worse for him. By the last 20 games, Lajoie was constantly making mistakes and looking lost. His scoring took a complete halt towards the end, scoring only 3 points in the last 30 games. He ended the season on an injury and wasn’t able to redeem himself in Belleville.
Lajoie’s potential remains extremely high and with some NHL experience under his belt, he should be able to compete once again for a spot but consistency is key for him and managing his ice time will be crucial.
The upcoming season is all about development and the beginning of an unparalleled rebuild and Lajoie has a tough road ahead of him. With a new coach in town and only 3-4 spots available, Lajoie will be competing with the likes of Jaros, Brannstrom and Wolanin, all of whom are expecting to have impressive training camps.
In today’s NHL, Lajoie’s style of play is the key to success. With the proper development and coaching, I think the Sens have an extremely serviceable player on their hands and I expect his ranking to significantly improve next year.
While Lajoie struggled last season, when he had good games, they were very entertaining. A few highlights from last season: