With the season a more two days away, we’re back for Part 2 of our Sterling Predictions Series. Check out Part 1 here and let’s get to it!
Tim Stützle is entering this season with the kind of hype we haven’t seen for a Sens prospect since Jason Spezza. What type of production can we expect from the young phenom?
Trevor: It looks like he’s going to get every opportunity to succeed in the top-6 with some of their better players, which I love. I don’t expect a ton from him, but I’ll say he ends up with 30 points, which translates to 43 in a normal season---still solid for an 18-year-old.
Nada: To bring home the Stanley Cup! But really it’s just that he have solid minutes in the top-6 and probably get to 40 points.
Spencer: I‘m in the camp that thinks Disco Stü is going to blow us away this season. I think the hype is real and warranted. I’m going wild and saying he posts 40 points in 56 games (58 point pace in a normal season) and will be a Calder finalist.
Owen: I would expect 20-25 points through 56 games. He’s capable of more but he’s an 18-year-old joining a team with three consecutive lottery seasons so his breakout will have to wait until next year.
Brandon: It’s important to temper expectations with a young player on what figures to be a bad team, but it’s hard not to get excited about Stützle’s potential. My hot take(?) for the year is that he wins the Calder trophy. Alexis Lafreniere’s supporting cast may make that a tall order, but the sky is the limit for Stützle.
Beata: I mean, obviously, he’s going to score at least 4 goals in the season opener, lead the league in every metric, win every award, and get instantly inducted into the hall of fame as the greatest hockey player of all time. Why are you guys all underestimating him so much?
In all seriousness, I think he’ll end the season somewhere in the 30-40 point range, and be at least a finalist for the Calder.
Ross: I expect a very specific trajectory. He’ll score a goal in his first game, and ignite the hype cannons. Then he’ll score something like 2 assists in his next 20 games, and we’ll all wonder if he was rushed. Then he’ll heat up, and get to 26 points by the end of the season.
Colin: I anticipate there will probably be a road bump to start the season — he’s filled to the brim with skill, but the way he utilized it against DEL players last season is just not directly translatable to the NHL. If he can hone his flashiness and quickly turn on the jets, 40+ points isn’t out of the question. But he’s still an 18-year-old rookie, on a team where none of their centres come close to matching his sheer quickness.
Shaan: While he’s only a few months removed from being drafted, there’s a reason that 2020 class had been hyped up as much as it was. He’s going to play with Evgeni Dadonov so that’s going to help his production a lot. I think he’ll score around 30 points this year, which is absolutely a successful season for an 18-year-old rookie.
nkb: This is maybe the first time I can remember everyone being excited for a prospect since Spezza, and it feels nice that it seems totally warranted. I do expect Stützle to struggle a little bit with figuring out NHL defenders at the start of the year but he’ll come on strong as the season progresses and will end with a very solid 18, goal, 17 assist 35 point campaign.
Thomas Chabot was the team’s workhorse on the blueline last year, but he never found a successful partnership with anyone besides Dylan DeMelo. Will Erik Gudbranson have any more luck, or are we looking at a partner by committee situation again this year?
Trevor: As someone who lives in Vancouver and saw friends and family members have the Erik Gudbranson experience up close...yikes. He’s at best a 6th/7th defenseman. I don’t see anyone on the right side that is good enough to play with Chabot long-term, although there’s a chance that Josh Brown or Artem Zub can be more passable than others.
Nada: I actually like Gudbranson and I think he’ll be good for the team but he’s not the permanent partner Chabot needs or deserves and I doubt he even earns much time with Chabot so partner by committee it is.
Spencer: The question here is whether or not Gudbranson will have luck being a successful partner to Chabot or whether or not DJ Smith will believe that to be the case - whether it’s true or not. I think the Chabot/Gudbranson combination will end up being good enough that Smith will leave them together, but I don’t expect the two to be an excellent pairing relative to other top defenders across the league.
Owen: Based on what we’ve seen at camp I expect Chabot and Gudbranson to finish the season as a tandem. That being said, Chabot’s long-term partner is still somewhere down the pipeline.
Brandon: I’m honestly not sure. Perhaps there’s something about D.J. Smith’s system, and a change of scenery that will elevate Gudbranson’s game, but as of now, I’d expect a committee approach. Keep an eye on Josh Brown and Artem Zub, though.
Beata: I think Gudbranson will play more minutes with Chabot than any other Sens defenceman, but we may be looking at another “winger for Spezza / partner for Karlsson” situation here.
Ross: Gudbranson doesn’t have a good brand, son. *ducks to dodge incoming tomatoes* Nobody on the Sens is good enough to play on Chabot’s pairing. I honestly think we may see Zub here the most, because he’s unlikely to be as much of a drag as anyone else.
Coline: The Sens seemed to think Chabot-Zaitsev was a success given how hesitant they were to switch things up. Obviously it was a disaster, and I expect that frustration to be fully present again this season with Gudbranson. The hitch: there’s not a better DeMelo-type option for them to switch to this year. That right side is bleak.
Shaan: He’ll probably be better than Zaitsev, but not nearly as good as DeMelo. Chabot was able to hold up Ron Hainsey to a certain extent, so if he can do the same with Gudbranson, it may not be the unbearable nightly terror we’re all expecting. I do hope Josh Brown and Artem Zub get a few reps on the top pair, though.
nkb: Unfortunately, I don’t really see it working too much better than Zaitsev. Smith will stick with it for the first part of the year, but eventually we’ll see a rotating cast — especially if the Sens are out of the running for the play-offs fairly early on.
Connor Brown was maybe the most pleasant surprise last year — who will most exceed our expectations for this year?
Trevor: I feel like expectations are pretty high for some of the prospects, so they won’t really go under the radar that much. I think the lesser-known Brown (Josh, not Logan) can end up being a serviceable defenseman who could very well end up being their best RHD---which isn’t saying that much. But I think he can have a solid first season in Ottawa.
Nada: I’m going with Colin White because I really want him to be part of this team long-term
Spencer: This is an interesting one for sure. Initially, I was going with Josh Brown like Trevor. But if there’s another player who will most exceed our expectations, I think it’s Galchenyuk. For me, the bar is about as low as it can get. He’s a reclamation project on a very team friendly deal. With the amount of youth on the team, and inevitable injuries, it’s very realistic to expect Galchenyuk gets some top 6 time throughout the season and I think he ends up scoring 15 goals, which is a 20+ goal pace.
Owen: Galchenyuk is more or less playing for his NHL career at this point (not unlike Duclair last year) and I can see him putting together a solid season in Ottawa.
Brandon: I think Derek Stepan might surprise some people. If he’s playing with the likes of Stützle, Dadonov, Batherson, or Tkachuk, we could see an inflation of his numbers. Based on the testimonials given about his off-ice impact as well, he could easily become a fan favourite.
Beata: I also suspect it will be Galchenyuk.
Ross: 36 hours ago, I would’ve said Rudolfs Balcers, but now... I’m gonna go back to the well of wishful thinking and say Marcus Hogberg. I think he’ll challenge Murray, getting them into more of a 55-45 split by the end of the season.
Colin: Folks are already excited for Dadonov, but I don’t think we’ve fully processed yet just how big of an acquisition he was. The Sens haven’t had a player of his high-end skill set since Mike Hoffman, and I even suspect he’ll exceed that.
Shaan: We’ve been waiting for Christian Wolanin to break out for two years now, this will be the season he performs like a second-pair defenseman full-time. Some have called him the second-best defenseman on the team, and I’m not sure they realize what that could mean for the Senators, who have lacked a capable second-pairing for about a decade.
nkb: I don’t know how big of a surprise this would be, but I think Batherson is going to put up a very solid year. If he gets the time on the PP that I expect he will, I’d look for a 40 point campaign.
What do you foresee happening? Do any of you have a crystal ball with insights you’d like to share?