With only 10 games left in this season, it appears highly unlikely that Ottawa will make the postseason. This means that for the 4th straight season, the Sens players will be spectators for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That is, unless something like the following occurs:
So let’s just move on and accept that after May 12th’s game vs the Leafs, we will have to wait until the fall to see Senators players in action again.
That is, in a Senators uniform anyways...
There are still a number of players on the Senators current roster who could get an invite to represent their country at the IIHF Men’s World Championship tournament which takes place May 21 - June 6 in Riga, Latvia.
Now, these days, it’s very hard to predict how willing players might be to go overseas for a tournament like this. It means more protocols, more quarantine, and more time away from family just to name a few things that would need to be weighed out before deciding to play for their country.
That doesn’t mean the choice is the same for every player. Some of the more exciting options on the Senators roster that international teams will have the opportunity to invite to the tourney are young, not married and without kids, which means the time away from family thing is less of a factor for them when making their decision to go.
In this article, I will take a look at some of the top selection options available to their country from the Sens.
The Sens have lots of good ol’ Canadian boy talent on their team. Freshly minted GM of Team Canada, Roberto Luongo, will have his work cut out for him in convincing veteran Canadian players to join his squad. There has even been talk that he could dip into the pool of top CHL players to fill in gaps in his roster for this years tournament. That being said, there are 5 Sens I’ve identified who could be invited to go.
Thomas Chabot, D
Chabot has represented Canada at multiple international events and tournaments over the years. Most notably when he won MVP of the tournament and a Silver medal at the 2017 World junior U-20 Championship. It’s my understanding that he’s been dealing with some minor injuries this season, but that shouldn’t hold him back from accepting Luongo’s invitation to be a major piece of Team Canada’s backend.
Chabot has put up impressive offensive numbers with Ottawa this year (28 points in 43 games) and is logging huge on-ice minutes as well. Despite a few mental errors we've seen in the D-Zone, I think Chabot is as close to a lock as you’ll see on the Sens for joining Team Canada in Riga. He’s an elite puck moving defensemen, and a player that will surely be coveted by the Team Canada brass. This will also give him an opportunity to showcase himself on the international stage for consideration to be on Canada's 2022 Olympic team.
Drake Batherson, RW
Batherson would be a very interesting invitee for this year's tournament.
Some might say he had his breakout year this year as an NHLer with Ottawa, getting league-wide attention for his 6 game goal streak back in late February/ early March and posting 15 Goals, 13 assists so far in 46 games played. His solid numbers are good enough to be tied for second on the Sens in points.
Batherson also has a history of playing well for team Canada, most remarkably winning a Gold Medal as a huge part of the 2018 WJC team, where he had 7 goals and 0 Assists in 7GP in that tournament (he actually had an assist on the Gold Medal GWG too but was never properly credited for the apple). If team Canada is looking for a shooting threat and some beef up front. Look no further than Drake ‘the steak’ Batherson. 🥩
Connor Brown, RW
As far as I can tell, Connor Brown has never represented Canada at any international tourney in his career. I found that a bit shocking considering his numbers in Junior.
Anyways, this season in Ottawa, Brown has been proving that he’s a more than capable defensive forward who has a knack for stealing the puck from the opposition (44 Takeaways - 2nd in the league) and scoring goals (Team leading 16G’s in 46 games).
If there was ever a year where Brown had a shot to represent Canada, this would be it. He’s been awesome this season (check out my last article where I pump his tires even further). Considering the fact he’s never had the opportunity to don Hockey Canada's crest on his chest, I imagine it would be likely he accepts the invite from Lou, should it come.
Nick Paul, C/LW
Maybe a bit more on the 'less likely' side to get invited, there’s 26 year-old Nick Paul.
Paul has represented Canada before, in 2015 he won the WJC Gold Medal with Team Canada as a Senators Prospect.
I would call this season a massive success for Paul in Ottawa so far, even though his offensive numbers aren’t anything overly noteworthy (4 G, 11A in 46 games played). He’s been one of DJ Smith's favourite and most reliable forwards from start to finish, always playing a workman-like style. He’s a big boy at 6’3, 225 lbs and should Team Canada be looking for a Clydesdale who can handle the puck to round out their 4th line and PK - Nick Paul would be a fantastic option and could have a shot at getting the invite.
Matt Murray, G
You know who else might get an invite to Team Canada? And this could come as a shocker for a lot of people because he's had what's being perceived as a bad season so far : But the answer is Matt Murray.
Sure, he’s not having his best season (especially the start) but has been playing much better since returning from injury with new goaltending coach Zac Bierk . That, combined with the fact that he has 2 cup wins under his belt might be enough to get Bobby Lou’s attention when selecting his tendies.
Canadian Goalie options aren’t what they used to be since the glory days, either. Looking at the teams who aren’t in playoff spots right now, options like Carter Hart, Mack Blackwood, and Braden Holtby aren’t overly appetizing, which could mean Murray is at least looked into.
Murray has only played for team Canada in international play once, and it was recent. He suited up in the 2019 IIHF World Championships.
It’s also worth noting that his wife did recently give birth to a baby, so that could come in as a factor in his decision if he does get invited.
Team USA 🇺🇸
Moving on the the US of A, there are some nifty options available for them to choose from. It’s extremely interesting that the GM of this team is going to be none other than Chris Drury, who is quickly climbing the GM ranks in terms of people who always get interest when there are NHL job openings. Let’s take a look at old Drury’s options in Ottawa when crafting his team.
Brady Tkachuk, LW
I really don’t feel like I need to expand on this kid. He’s an absolute mutant on the ice, and a great leader off the ice. I can’t imagine a world where someone who loves hockey as much as Brady Tkachuk would pass up on the opportunity to wear the Red White and Blue.
He leads the Sens in hits, SOG , and points with 29. On top of that, he’ll likely be given the opportunity to play with his older brother on this team (unless CGY can squeak their way into the playoffs). He has also represented the USA since he was 16 as a part of their development program, and was a member of their World Junior team in 2018. Consider him as good as a lock to go to this tournament.
Josh Norris, C
This is where things get really interesting.
Josh Norris has also been embedded in USA's development program since he was 16 and he’s Brady Tkachuk’s best friend and was his line-mate this season as well, which should not go unnoticed.
I really would love to see them both go to Riga so they can continue their development and chemistry as teammates. It will ultimately be the coaches decision on who will play with who, but how fun would it be for Sens fans to watch Brady and Josh tear it up together for some bonus games with the US?
I say there’s a good chance it happens considering last year's AHL rookie of the year is going to get Calder votes for his work this season (13G’s, 16A’s in 46 games). He’s become quite the threat in the right circle on the PP too. Will be hard for Drury to pass on this kind of sniper power.
Colin White, C
This guy has had a fucking roller coaster of a season to say the least. I literally almost forgot about him when I made this list. Starting off the year as a healthy scratch, only to enter the lineup and go on a little goal scoring tear of his own (4 G’s in 3 GP in an early season CGY series), then came some injury struggles, which for now appear to be over.
He’s currently sitting at only 14 pts(8G, 6A) in 36 games played, but one thing White does have is a great international resume. Also developed as a part of the US dev program, White is held in pretty high regard by USA management. He was a member of both the USA 2016 and 2017 WJC teams where he scored a combined 10G 5A in 14 games played over both tourneys.
OH! and he was the team's leading goal scorer when they won Gold in 2017. So I think there’s a pretty good chance he gets a look.
Team Russia 🇷🇺
I won’t be overly surprised if I find myself watching a few Russia games in this tournament since it’s quite likely that all three guys on my list below will be part of their team. I’m not sure who’s in charge of selecting this years group (I feel like it’s always Larionov) but if they don’t select these Sens they’re probably drunk on Vodka.
Evgenii Dadonov, RW
This season has been a streaky one for Daddy, that’s saying the least. He’s found himself at times falling out of favour with the Senators fan base. “Not enough impact on the PP, not enough playmaking ability etc etc”. Still, I don’t think team Russia can pass up on an elite Goal scorer like Dadonov. It’s likely he finds comfort among his comrades and returns to goal scoring glory in international play. The big ice likely also benefits a smaller guy like him. He has 12 goals for Ottawa this season and counting. He’s represented Russia internationally before plenty of times, and I think he will once again.
Artyom Zub, D
Zuuuub! Ottawa newest and favourite misfit, non-english speaking son. We fucking love this guy and if you’re the GM of team Russia and you don’t then you don’t deserve to have him anyways. Sure, he’s an NHL rookie, but he played several seasons in the KHL prior to this which should give him some added credibility and familiarity over there. Moreover, he won an Olympic Gold Medal with Russia in 2018 as a member of the Olympic Athletes of Russia(OAR) team. I’m not sure what the RHD depth looks in Russia and who might be available to them, but Zub seems like a good option. I wouldn’t say there’s a great chance he’s on their team, but I wouldn’t count it out either.
Nikita Zaitsev, D
Right handed defensemen are hard to come by, but not in Russia apparently. This guy and the next guy on my list both come from there and are both members of the Sens who should make up 2/3rds of Russia’s right side on D. Zaitsev has had a bounceback season after being the whipping boy for Sens fans last year. He’s been solid on a Ottawa’s top pairing with Chabot and has put up a respectable 2 goals and 11 assists this year. He has been a stalwart for Russia in past international tourneys, including winning gold as part of the 2011 team. I expect him to be on team Russia, unless there are extenuating circumstances involving his young family (there’s been some drama on that front in the past).
Notable Snub: Artem Anisimov.
Team Germany 🇩🇪
Germany is certainly an up and coming country when it comes to developing NHL level talent recently, but they're not even close to competing in international tournaments like these yet. There's only one German on the Sens and he'll certainly be getting invited to play in this tournament to represent his country for the second time this year.
Tim Stützle. LW/C
It might be an unpopular opinion, but I would really like to see Timmy get even more hockey in under his belt after the 2021 season he’s had. He started the year off by carrying Team Germany on his back in the 2021 WJC with 5G and 5A in 5 GP and I’d like to see him finish his season in a similar fashion as a part of Team Germany at this year's World Championships. He’ll definitely be getting the invite considering the talent Germany has available to them (hint: not a ton of NHLers and Draisaitl is going to the playoffs). He’ll have the opportunity to be on their Top line and maybe even get some reps at Centre. Timmy, catch a flight to Riga with your roomies and make us proud baby. Once this tournament is finished, ‘Jimmy Stü’ will have plenty of time to rest up and bulk up for the 2021-22 Senators Season.
So there you have it. Some things to look forward to as a Sens fan, even after the season ends. If some of our young players can jump across the pond and continue their growth and development as people and as players while also providing us with some highlights to watch, we should be ecstatic about that.