So, Alex DeBrincat is now a member of the Ottawa Senators, and that means it's time to start creating problems based around him. Maybe the biggest question for Sens fans so far has been where he fits into the team's powerplay. On the one hand, Chabot-Norris-Batherson-Stützle-Tkachuk have been the top unit for the past couple years. On the other hand, DeBrincat scored 14 PPG last year, behind only Norris's 16 for Ottawa, and it would seem silly to not put him on that top unit. So where does he go? Here are some thoughts.
1) DeBrincat on PP2
Don't mess with success. Keep the top guys together, and have DeBrincat lead the secondary unit. I see two problems with this. First, you're putting arguably your most skilled forward on the unit that gets maybe 30 seconds of each powerplay, never starts on a faceoff, and so never gets really set up in the zone. The second is that the Sens had the 20th-best powerplay in the league last year, and that only thanks to some late-season heroics from Norris. Surely it's worth trying to improve on a powerplay with guys we love, but which actually ran cold for some of the year?
2) DeBrincat replaces Norris
This sounds odd, but I think it's fair to say DeBrincat is the more established NHL goal scorer. Tkachuk is your faceoff guy, so you move Norris to be the pivot on PP2. It might be controversial, but they do serve similar roles traditionally on the powerplay.
3) DeBrincat replaces Tkachuk
It's hard to argue with the powerplay skull of Stützle and Batherson. Sure, Norris gets the goals, but he needs guys to set him up. If you're not replacing Norris, then Tkachuk is maybe your guy. The thing is, Tkachuk is a big body who is adept at getting greasy goals. In my mind, with this option you put Batherson as the net-front guy, with his soft hands being a big part of his role. This gives you two lethal shooting threats, with Norris likely on the right and DeBrincat on the left.
4) DeBrincat replaces Chabot
This might be my favourite choice, because it's so against today's NHL culture. Several years ago, teams played around a bit with 5-forward powerplays. Then they all but disappeared. Why? I think partly because puck-moving D became a staple on every team, and I think partly because coaches are risk-averse and hate the idea of no defencemen on the ice. Still, I'd love to see this. Put Stützle as the quarterback, DeBrincat on the left, Norris on the right, Batherson as the high-slot floater, and Tkachuk in front of the net. This would also give Chabot a chance to not play 32 minutes a night.
So, what say you? Where does DeBrincat fit on a Sens powerplay?
Where does DeBrincat fit on the powerplay?
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