The future looks bright in Ottawa thanks to newly-crowned best defenseman in all of junior hockey: Thomas Chabot. And he appears to be ready for the NHL.
The Ottawa Senators made a stunning run in the post-season, coming within a single goal of the Stanley Cup final. And while there is much to celebrate surrounding the greatness of Erik Karlsson, the resiliency of Craig Anderson and Clarke MacArthur, and the tactical forcefulness of coach Guy Boucher, it’s worth noting that the future looks pretty bright in Ottawa, too.
From two-way center Colin White to Memorial Cup champion Logan Brown, the Sens have some nice pieces up front. On the back end, they have the newly-crowned best defenseman in all of junior: Thomas Chabot.
The Saint John Sea Dogs stalwart fell in his final junior game to the Memorial Cup runners-up from Erie, but along the way he further cemented his status as a minute-munching game-changer on the back end. Even if he can’t reach the lofty heights of Ottawa’s current ace defenseman, Chabot stands to be an impact blueliner who has impressed opponents with his excellence.
“He’s a great player,” said Erie captain Dylan Strome. “He’s gonna be pretty scary with Karlsson back there.”
Chabot had a buffet of important experiences in his junior days. The confident puckmover and all-around talent has two world juniors under his belt (earning a silver medal this year) and now a QMJHL title and Memorial Cup berth. But it was his training camp and brief tenure with the Senators at the beginning of this season that really opened his eyes.
“I had the chance to be in Ottawa for two months, Chabot said. “That’s where I probably learned the most about myself on and off the ice. Coming from junior, you learn the NHL is a job like how my parents go to a job every morning. You have to show up and work as hard as you can every day and going on road trips, I had a chance to see how the boys take care of themselves on and off the ice.”
What will be most interesting now is to see how fast Chabot can make an impact with the Senators. Naturally, he won’t have to log insane minutes right away – what with Karlsson doing that, and all – but he will have to fight for a place on a ‘D’ corps that really came together under Boucher’s new regime. Marc Methot, Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf rounded out the top four, while Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman and Fredrik Claesson also played roles in the team’s success.
Still, another long training camp will help the continuing education of Chabot, even if he has to spend some time after that with the franchise’s new AHL affiliate in Belleville (personally, I think he’ll make it, especially if Ottawa loses a D-man in the Vegas expansion draft). And the carrot of playing with Karlsson at some point is a pretty strong incentive.
“To have the chance to maybe play with him one day would be special,” Chabot said. “Everyone knows he’s so great on the ice and a one-of-a-kind. I’m going to try and learn as much as I can from him.”
The best part is that Chabot has an entire pro career ahead of him. The fact he has already done a lot of maturing both on and off the ice speaks to the adversity he was willing to go through to make his junior dreams come true.
“I came into Saint John as a young kid,” he said. “I grew up near Quebec City in a small town where people only spoke French and next thing you know I get drafted to Saint John, New Brunswick – I didn’t even know where that was. I get to the city and everyone speaks English; I don’t speak a word of English. It feels like I started yesterday and all of a sudden I’m done.”
But there is far, far more to come from young Chabot – and the Ottawa Senators will be all the better for it.
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