No. 5: Thomas Chabot (Reader rank: 4, Last year: 12)
In October, Thomas Chabot has a chance to do something rarely heard of with defenseman his age. The 19-year-old will be given a solid opportunity to fill a roster spot on an NHL team once training camp rolls around.
Though he could turn everything around in the coming months with a good showing when the team gets together in mid September, Chabot didn’t make it easy on himself with a poor showing at development camp in July, which saw Senators management openly criticize their prospect’s performance.
"I feel like it's a bump in the road to being a pro. Maybe I thought it was going to be a bit easier at (development) camp, so I took it way too easy... I went back home and started to get ready for (training) camp. It's motivated me a lot. I'm working harder in the gym, I'm skating harder, trying to get my intensity levels higher, so I can come back in September and prove them wrong." - Thomas Chabot. July 18, 2016. Silver Seven.
Before the “bump in the road” in July, Chabot was coming off an outstanding season.
He joined Team Canada at the World Juniors around Christmas time in Helsinki, Finland, to go for gold at the U-20 level for the first time. Though Canada was unsuccessful in their efforts - they did not get passed the quarter final after a loss to the host team - Chabot carted three assists in five games and at times was seen as Canada’s go-to guy in offensive situations.
His campaign with the Sea Dogs in the QMJHL was one to remember.
Battling through injuries and an increased amount of playing time (NHL training camp in September, QMJHL regular season and World Juniors), the Ste Marie, Quebec, native was a key part in Saint John’s dominance. Chabot finished the regular season with 45 (11, 34) points in 47 games and the Sea Dogs finished third in the league.
And he did things like this quite a few times.
When the postseason rolled around, Chabot took his game to new heights.
"It was a tremendous experience for him to go to the World Juniors and it was a tremendous experience for him to lead our team in the playoffs. This organization, up until last year, had never won a playoff series in Thomas' tenure here. He gained valuable experience learning to be a leader and to perform when the rest of the team is looking at you on the bench when it's 2-2 and saying 'what are you going to do?'" - Sea Dogs Head Coach Danny Flynn. July 18, 2016. Silver Seven.
He answered that theoretical question proposed by Flynn many, many times.
Chabot finished second in defenseman scoring in the playoffs - playing four less games than the leading scorer - recording 21 (3, 18) points in 17 games. With his help, the Sea Dogs were able to win two series, but were defeated in five games by the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Semi Finals.
The offensive defenseman has nearly the entire package; speed, hockey IQ, size, stickhandling ability, you name it. Admittedly, he and his coaches would like to work on his coverage in his own end, but there’s not much else to improve on.
Flynn describes Chabot’s skating as “already at an elite level.”
There will only be one spot up for grabs on the Senators’ defense corps come October, and if Chabot isn’t the one filling it, he’ll head back to New Brunswick and join his Junior team for another year.
It seems like a win-win for Ottawa in this situation. If he’s good enough to make the team in a month’s time, well, then great, he’s NHL ready. But if not, they still have a 19-year-old, blue chip prospect that will only continue to get better, honing his skills at the Junior level.