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End-of-Season Report Cards: Forwards

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How do the reader grades compare to the staff grades for the Sens’ forwards?

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres
Look at those faces! Except yeah, Whitey’s definitely a closet Sabres’ fan.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who voted in our 2019-20 End-of-Season Report Cards! Today, we’re going through our the results for the forwards, including staff and reader grades as well as how they compare to our midseason grades. Without further ado, let’s move...wait for it...

Ahead. Let’s move ahead. What did you think I was going to say?

Artem Anisimov (Grade: C, Previous: C-, Readers: B-)

  • 49 GP, 15 G, 5 A, 46.63 CF%, 46.10 xGF%

Despite his numbers at 5v5 being among the worst on the team, he did score at a 25-goal pace over a full season. In particular, that shootout win against Detroit featured some kind of sorcery out of him. Overall, he wasn’t bad, but he’s still not worth that contract and easily replaceable.

Rudolfs Balcers (Grade: B, Previous: B-, Readers: B-)

  • 15 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 52.16 CF%, 51.47 xGF%

Balcers quietly went about his business in the NHL this season, and was more helpful than harmful in the limited role he was given. Next season will bring about a big test: will he be able to lock down a roster spot with Alex Formenton knocking on the door?

Drake Batherson (Grade: B, Previous: B-, Readers: B)

  • 23 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 47.04 CF%, 46.60 xGF%

Batherson continued to show us that he’s graduated as a prospect: his late-season demotion had nothing to do with his performance. He’ll be a third-liner at worst next year, and a top-six player at best. Either way, his physical play and drive seem likely to be there in full force.

Mikkel Boedker (Grade: D, Previous: D-, Readers: D+)

  • 20 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 45.86 CF%, 47.70 xGF%

He was not as big of a disaster as last year due to being sheltered, but the fact that Boedker wasn’t able to lock down a permanent spot on the 2019-20 Ottawa Senators is a good indicator as to why he’ll be playing in Switzerland next season.

Connor Brown (Grade: B, Previous: B, Readers: B+)

  • 71 GP, 16 G, 27 A, 47.94 CF%, 49.17 xGF%

He was trusted by D.J. Smith to play in the biggest role he’s ever had, and Brown delivered with a career offensive season. You want a guy like him on your team, because while he doesn’t have a shot of any kind, his influence on youngsters like Vitaly Abramov could prove to be invaluable.

Filip Chlapik (Grade: B, Previous: B, Readers: C+)

  • 31 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 50.99 CF%, 52.21 xGF%

As a second-round pick from the 2015 draft, a draft that’s already supplied the team with high-end young talent, Chlapik becoming an NHL player of any caliber would be icing on the cake. As a staff, we like his compete level and play away from the puck, as does the head coach. He’s also done well at driving even-strength play in sheltered minutes. If he doesn’t nab an open roster spot next year, it won’t be for a lack of trying.

Anthony Duclair (Grade: B, Previous: A-, Readers: B+)

  • 66 GP, 23 G, 17 A, 47.47 CF%, 50.46 xGF%

Despite the cold streak, the Duke finished the year with over twenty goals, which is great production. However, poor metrics in the defensive zone played a role in quite a few of our grades this time around. On the bright side, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of effort there, so he’ll surely work to round out his game going forward.

Tyler Ennis (Grade: B, Previous: B+, Readers: B)

  • 61 GP, 14 G, 19 A, 49.57 CF%, 51.64 xGF%

Hello Ennis, my old friend, I’m writing about you again. His numbers speak for themselves, he outperformed his one-year $800,000 contract and then some. I’m surprised more teams weren’t interested in giving up more than the fifth-rounder Edmonton offered for him.

Jayce Hawryluk (Grade: B, Previous: NR, Readers: C+)

  • 11 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 52.17 CF%, 53.89 xGF%

We’ve seen this sort of flash-in-the-pan performance before, like that monster run from Brian Gibbons last year, who spent this season in the AHL. Hawryluk seems to have something else going on, however. He’s still fairly young and had a very productive junior career. Not to say that his offence will translate to the NHL, but at the very least he’s a useful depth forward that the Senators would be smart to bring back on a one-year deal.

Vladislav Namestnikov (Grade: C, Previous: C, Readers: B-)

  • 54 GP, 13 G, 12 A, 44.36 CF%, 45.45 xGF%

Like Anisimov, he was one of the team’s worst forwards at driving even-strength play, but Namestnikov did serve to fill a hole in the top-nine while Batherson was working on his game in Belleville, and Ottawa gave up virtually nothing to get him.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Grade: A, Previous: A, Readers: A-)

  • 60 GP, 24 G, 16 A, 48.05 CF%, 51.36 xGF%

Jean-Gabriel, you will be forever a legend here for your two-way game and otherworldly playoff performances. It’s a shame that you couldn’t spend your whole career in Ottawa, but nobody can say you don’t deserve that six-year, $5M/year deal the Islanders signed you to. Hope you’re enjoying the plummet down the standings! We’ll enjoy drafting Seth Jarvis.

Nick Paul (Grade: B, Previous: B, Readers: B)

  • 56 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 46.70 CF%, 46.50 xGF%

At long last, Nick Paul is an NHL player. You can look at his shot metrics and say they’re not good, but he was also given heavy defensive deployment, with an offensive zone start percentage of only 36.55%. He’s earned a one-way contract, and I’d lock him up for three years at under $1.5M.

Matthew Peca (Grade: C, Previous: NR, Readers: C)

  • 9 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 53.55 CF%, 57.74 xGF%

Peca didn’t turn any heads during his time in Ottawa, but he still did fine on the fourth line, which is more than we can say for some others they had in that spot. He certainly played a part in the team’s not-awful play down the stretch.

Bobby Ryan (Grade: C+, Previous: C, Readers: B-)

  • 24 GP, 5 G, 3 A, 53.33 CF%, 49.82 xGF%

In our hearts, Bobby gets an ‘A’, but his play gets a C+. Overall, his body of work was underwhelming but his play upon returning was a promising sign that he’s still an NHL player. Given the lack of RW prospects in the system, Ryan should have an easier shot than some others at keeping his Top-9 spot next season, but you never know.

Scott Sabourin (Grade: D, Previous: D, Readers: C)

  • 35 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 44.49 CF%, 39.82 xGF%

Forget his abysmal on-ice numbers for a second. Sabourin, a career minor-league facepuncher, was name-checked by Auston Matthews in the preseason, only for the former to score a goal in the 2019-20 regular season before the superstar sniper did. Yeah, we couldn’t grade him any higher, but mad respect to the guy for working his butt off and living out his NHL dream. (Disclaimer: Any positive feelings toward Scott Sabourin may immediately disintegrate if the Senators re-sign him.)

Chris Tierney (Grade: C+, Previous: C+, Readers: B)

  • 71 GP, 11 G, 26 A, 47.81 CF%, 47.81 xGF%

Here’s an example of a polarizing player among the staff. His production was solid for a third-liner, but those that were lower on him than others, cited issues with consistency and below-average shot metrics. Though he, like Paul, was used primarily in a defensive role, and still posted better numbers than guys like Anisimov and Namestnikov.

Brady Tkachuk (Grade: A, Previous: A-, Readers: A-)

  • 71 GP, 21 G, 23 A, 51.34 CF%, 54.62 xGF%

Despite the lack of quality in the top-six compared to last season, Tkachuk finished only one point back of his rookie totals, and was even more of a menace around the net. The Senators knocked the Chabot contract out of the park, and they absolutely need to take the same approach with Tkachuk, because if his brother’s third season is any indication, next year thirty other teams are going to be calling Brady “2020”.

Colin White (Grade: C+, Previous: C, Readers: C+)

  • 61 GP, 7 G, 16 A, 49.12 CF%, 51.30 xGF%

While we’re not particularly close to hitting the panic button with respect to White, we were all expecting more production out of him this year; even after taking into account the loss of Mark Stone. His injury early in the season seemed to bother him for a while afterwards, but he was able to put together a stretch of eight points in nine games to close out the season. Hopefully he can build from there.

Well, that ended up being quite a list of names! Feel free to let us know how wrong we are in the comments! Also, be sure not to miss Wednesday’s piece featuring the defence. Thanks for reading and stay safe!