Students wait for it all year long: report cards!
Here at Silver Seven Sens, we gave grades to the forwards, defensemen and goalies, and coaching and management at the halfway mark of the Ottawa Senators season, and now we are back to give our final season grades (not just the second half).
It should be noted that 10 staff members voted, so these are simply the average of those grades. In terms of the letter grade definitions, there was no specific outline, but C+ generally means average, with anything higher being better and anything lower being worse. How writers vote is going to be slightly different across the board too, because some base it more on expectations and/or contracts, while some base it solely on their overall contribution. Nevertheless, I think these grades are pretty fair:
Michael Amadio: C (Halfway: N/A)
5 GP, 0G, 1A, 55.88 CF%, 56.54 xGF%
Amadio was acquired from Los Angeles in the Christian Wolanin trade and obviously hasn’t played very much here. In his small sample of 5 games, he had just the one assist but had good shot metrics on his side. He’s an RFA in the summer, and if they re-sign him before the expansion draft, he will fit the forward exposure requirements.
Drake Batherson: A (Halfway: A)
56 GP, 17G, 17A, 47.71 CF%, 49.96 xGF%
Batherson gets the same grade as the first half, which is excellent. He proved that he is a top-6 player, as he ended the season on pace for 50 points. I think he is capable of even more, potentially in the 60-70 point range at his peak. It remains to be seen if he will be their long-term answer on the top line, but he is still a good player to build around, and he’s only getting better at the age of 23.
Clark Bishop: B- (Halfway: N/A)
13 GP, 0G, 3A, 50 CF%, 56.92 xGF%
Acquired for Max Lajoie, Bishop was quietly solid on the 4th line during his 13 games in Ottawa. Out of Senators skaters with at least multiple games played, Bishop was first on the team in xGF%, so if they want to re-sign the Group 6 UFA, he could be a decent depth option playing in Belleville.
Connor Brown: A (Halfway: B)
56 GP, 21G, 14A, 50.46 CF%, 46.53 xGF%
Brown had one of the most surprising seasons on the team, as I don’t think anyone expected him to score 21 times. 21 goals in a normal season would have been impressive, but in 56 games that put him on pace for 30 in an entire 82-game schedule. He was an integral part of the penalty kill as he led the league with five short-handed goals, and he seems like a perfect player to have in the middle-six of their lineup. He also broke the franchise record for most games in a row with a goal (eight), which is astounding. He isn’t going to shoot 17.1% next season, but he’s a good player regardless.
Evgenii Dadonov: C (Halfway: B-)
55 GP, 13G, 7A, 51.96 CF%, 50.06 xGF%
Considering the excitement before the season, Dadonov was extremely disappointing. He had averaged 66 points per season over the previous three seasons, so fans were expecting at least a 50-point winger who could drastically improve the powerplay. His overall shot metrics were good enough, but the fact is that he only had one measly assist on the powerplay and never looked dynamic on the ice at all. I’m not sure if the 32-year-old has lost a step or not, but he needs to be much better. We’re at a point where Ottawa might expose him in the expansion draft if they don’t want to hold onto his contract (although I don’t think that is a good idea due to his potential upside).
Ryan Dzingel: C (Halfway: N/A)
29 GP, 6G, 3A, 48.28 CF%, 47.86 xGF%
If Dzingel was given a grade after his first 10-15 games, it probably would have been in the B to A- range. He scored 6 goals and 2 assists in his first 14 games, but then finished the season with just 1 assist in 15 games. Considering Ottawa’s depth on the left side with Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, Alex Formenton, and Nick Paul, I don’t see them keeping Dzingel (again).
Alex Formenton: B+ (Halfway: N/A)
20 GP, 4G, 2A, 42.47 CF%, 42.71 xGF%
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call Formenton the fastest player in the league. I’d love to see him in the All-Star game next year because I think he’d easily win, and he’s an incredibly fun player to watch. It seemed like every game he was getting at least one breakaway, and if he can score on more of those, he could be quite the effective forward. Most of his value came from his speed and his work on the PK, as his 5v5 numbers still leave something to be desired. I think he can have a breakout season in 2021-22.
Josh Norris: A (Halfway: A-)
56 GP, 17G, 18A, 47.23 CF%, 51.58 xGF%
Norris deserves this A not only because he had a solid rookie campaign that put him on pace for 51 points in a full season, but because he was playing first-line minutes and was going toe-to-toe with top centres such as Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Mark Scheifele, and Elias Pettersson. Not only did he stay afloat, he thrived. He had some good linemates with Tkachuk, Batherson, etc., but Norris was the one with the best defensive profile:
I don’t know if his offense will ever get to a level where I’d be comfortable with him being the 1C on a contender, but he’s a very good player to have as a part of the core.
Nick Paul: B+ (Halfway: A-)
56 GP, 5G, 15A, 50.08 CF%, 46.04 xGF%
Interestingly enough, Paul had the exact same amount of games played (56) and points (20) in each of the past two seasons. That put him on pace for 29 points, which is all you need from a defensively responsible winger who will help on the penalty kill. He didn’t score quite as much as it looked like he could have, but he brings value nonetheless.
Shane Pinto: B (Halfway: N/A)
12 GP, 1G, 6A, 44.98 CF%, 49.23 xGF%
Pinto quietly put up 7 points in 12 games, although he definitely benefitted from playing with Tim Stützle and Connor Brown. He looked very confident defensively, especially on the penalty kill (are you sensing a theme here?), so we know he can at least be useful on that side of the puck. His offensive creativity wasn’t amazing, but for his first 12 games, he still did a good job overall. I think a Josh Norris-type jump in production next year is certainly possible.
Tim Stützle: A- (Halfway: A-)
53 GP, 12G, 17A, 47.89 CF%, 45.21 xGF%
Stützle had quite a fascinating season. On the one hand, his shot metrics were quite poor and he didn’t help their defensive woes at all. On the other hand, he’s a 19-year-old rookie who is growing into his frame and was trusted in a top-6 role while being on pace for 45 points in a full season. Considering how many teenagers struggle in terms of possession numbers, I’m not worried about Stützle, and I’m much more encouraged by the fact that he was their most creative player and could get around defensemen with ease. The surface-level numbers will only get better, and so will the more advanced ones. It’s easy to be excited about his future as a Senator.
Chris Tierney: D+ (Halfway: C)
55 GP, 6G, 13A, 48.33 CF%, 42.60 xGF%
It seems like most of the fanbase is done with Tierney, especially once Pinto entered the equation. He’s becoming redundant considering they already have enough bottom-6 players like him, plus they are all much better defenders. He was only on pace for 28 points, which would’ve been his lowest since 2016-17. He’s easy to forget about, and he could be the ideal player to lose in expansion to the Seattle Kraken. He’s capable of being better, but he wasn’t effective this season.
Brady Tkachuk: A (Halfway: A)
56 GP, 17G, 19A, 48.70 CF%, 50.51 xGF%
It was more of the same this year for Brady, as his points per game in each of his first three seasons are now 0.63, 0.62, 0.64. He also appeared to become the de facto leader of the team and if I had to put money down on who the next Senators captain would be, it’d be Tkachuk. He showed fantastic chemistry with Norris and Batherson, and it’s great that he seems to be having fun here. I mean, how can you not be happy with him?
Colin White: B- (Halfway: A-)
45 GP, 10G, 8A, 52 CF%, 49.51 xGF%
White had a better first half because when he last did these letter grades, he had 14 points in 27 games. After that point, he had just 4 in 18 games. He’s not worth his contract and he might never be, but that doesn’t mean he is a useless player. He still has some value on the 3rd line as he can score between 30-40 points and he had some of the better possession metrics on the team. I’m curious to see what he can do in a full season next year.
So out of the 14 forwards, 5 of them did not receive a grade in the first half. Then amongst the other 9, two of them received better grades in the second half, three received the same grade, and four received a worse grade. The only risers were Brown (B to an A) and Norris (A- to A), while White dropped the most (A- to B-). For the most part though, there wasn’t too much difference between the first and second half for the forwards.
How would you grade the forwards?