Ottawa Senators’ defenseman, Thomas Chabot has played exceptionally well this season.
After 37 games played, Chabot has registered 10 goals, 27 assists, 1 power-play goal, 11 power-play assists, a 10.2 shooting percentage, 24:16 average time on ice, 47.1 corsi-for percentage, 48.7 defensive zone start percentage, 68 blocks, 45 hits and 29 give-aways.
If you are questioning the statistics that I pulled, video highlights will indicate how impressive Chabot has been.
In the below GIF from @SensProspects, you can see Chabot deke out Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils at the blue line. After his deke, Chabot skates up to the face-off circle and wrists home a goal. It’s just an incredible play and one that should be on a highlight reel at the end of the season.
Thomas Chabot broke Nico Nico Hischier's ankles 👀 pic.twitter.com/jKCT4bAji6
— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) November 7, 2018
We aren’t done. In the below GIF from @SensProspects, Chabot wrists home a beautiful shot from the point at against the Philadelphia Flyers. Chabot is an absolute magician. He can pick corners very well and frustrate goaltenders left and right.
— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) November 28, 2018
We have one more GIF showcasing Chabot’s raw offensive talent. In the GIF below from Yahoo Sports Canada, Chabot flies into the offensive zone at the same time that Colin White has the puck deep into the offensive zone. Chabot was flying from the bench as the Ottawa Senators had a shift change. White saw Chabot coming into the zone and delivered a pass to Chabot at the blue line. Instead of Chabot taking his time with the puck, he struck gold with a one-timer goal. Unbelievable shot from Chabot.
Where did you come from Mr. Chabot?
🎥: Hockey Dailypic.twitter.com/zU2zrP01qa
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) December 15, 2018
With his strong performance in the offensive zone, many hockey analysts and experts have suggested that Chabot could be in the Norris Trophy race at the end of the season. At the moment, he’s being seen as the number two defenseman in the NHL. Unfortunately for Senators fans, the number one defenseman in the NHL is playing for their divisional foe, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Morgan Rielly has been outstanding as well. The reason why he has the leg up on Chabot is for his performance in the defensive zone. If you line up his statistics to Chabot’s, you’ll believe that he is more effective in the defensive zone.
In terms of defensive and possession statistics, Rielly has a 50.2 corsi-for percentage, 22:28 average time on ice, 45.6 defensive zone start percentage, 57 blocks, 27 hits and 44 give-aways. While his corsi-for percentage might be better than Chabot’s, it’s hard to argue that Rielly is the better defenseman. The only way to do that would be if Rielly played for the Ottawa Senators and was given the same time on ice as Chabot.
Hard To Compare
Since that isn’t possible, I wanted to take an in-depth look at Chabot in the defensive zone. Many analysts have declared that Chabot is one dimensional and/or that he needs more time in the league before he develops a strong defensive game. Yet, I wouldn’t make that argument. Chabot has been effective in all three zones. Unfortunately, the team surrounding Chabot isn’t as strong as the Toronto Maple Leafs squad.
Before we jump into more statistics, let’s compare the two rosters. The Toronto Maple Leafs have Frederik Andersen, Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Travis Dermott, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau.
To be frank, you don’t need to look at the stats and compare both rosters to determine who has the better roster. It’s the Toronto Maple Leafs by a mile. But, that doesn’t mean that the Senators are bad. They just need Chabot to play a different role than what Rielly’s role is for the Maple Leafs. The Senators are more dependent on Chabot’s presence to win hockey games versus the Maple Leafs with Rielly.
Plus, Chabot has shown that he is capable of strong defensive play. Last season, he was outstanding in the defensive zone for Ottawa. If you look at Corey Snazjder’s Entry Defense statistics, Chabot isn’t bad. He had a 74.5 exit percentage and a 35.1 possession exit percentage. All-in-all, that’s not half bad. While his exit percentages and possession exit percentages weren’t at the level of former Senator, Erik Karlsson, they still were pretty good. In addition, it was only his first season in the NHL. Not many defensemen can come into the NHL right away and be the next Karlsson. It does take time. Yet, those numbers in his first season proved that he was elite.
In addition, Chabot has improved in the defensive zone since last season. The biggest improvement has been his physicality. He isn’t timid and doesn’t mind getting involved physically. As I mentioned prior, he has 45 hits in 37 games played. That is a huge improvement when you compare that to his hits totals from last season. Last season, he had 44 hits in 63 games. Granted, Chabot didn’t have as much ice time last year, but with his current TOI, he could potentially hit the 100 hit mark for the season.
So, as you can see, Chabot is dominant in the defensive zone. Unfortunately, some analysts believe that the two-way style defensive profile doesn’t exist. I’d argue it does. Just because you might be lethal in one zone, doesn’t mean that you can’t be as good in the defensive zone. Plus, it’s challenging to compare two defensemen when they aren’t playing in the same system and don’t average the same time on ice. Both, Rielly and Chabot are special defensemen and they should both be candidates to take home the Norris. So, don’t discount Chabot, just because his corsi-for percentage is lower.
stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com and Corey Snazjder
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals