The Ottawa Senators and Shane Pinto have huge expectations for this season. Ottawa’s fan base is excited to see this player excel, in what is hoped will be his first full NHL campaign. Coming off an injury-derailed season, Pinto looks to solidify himself a spot in the Senators lineup. He has lots of support, from his teammates, his fans, and the coaching staff, to finally hit his stride at the NHL level.
— Ottawa Citizen (@OttawaCitizen) April 4, 2021
Ottawa Senators Shane Pinto Expectations Based on NCAA Success
The Ottawa Senators Shane Pinto expectations are sky-high for this season, and why not. First of all, Pinto’s last full season playing hockey at the University of North Dakota was riddled with hardware. He claimed the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) forward of the year, defensive forward of the year, unanimous first-team all-star selection, and was the NCHC Player of Year. In total, he compiled 60 points in 61 games over two seasons. His attitude also has the coaching staff brimming with confidence. When asked about his hardware, he was most proud of the defensive forward of the year accolade. This was also evidenced in the fact he went from 46 penalty minutes his freshmen year to just four in his sophomore season.
Ottawa Senators and the UND Connection
During the downtime of the summer, Pinto, the Senators 32nd overall pick from 2019, has lots to look forward to from a comfort-level standpoint. From his 2020-21 sophomore season, where UND captured the HCNC crown, the Senators have four players in their system. Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jake Sanderson, and Tyler Kleven all played with Pinto during that standout season. Each of these players has high hopes. Specifically, Bernard-Docker looks to repeat his successful 2019-20 year at UND, where he had 25 points. As an organization, they are high on these players. For example, Sanderson is coming to camp looking to crack the top-six. Meanwhile, Bernard-Docker is likely just outside the top-six to start the upcoming season, but high on the list of call-ups. Kleven, a Fargo, N.D. native, looks to apply his trade at the university level for at least one more year..
Ottawa Senators Top Prospects (as per Craig Button – prior to July 2022 NHL entry draft)
1 Jake Sanderson, D
2 Ridly Greig, C
3 Mads Sogaard, G
4 Lassi Thomson, D
5 Jacob Bernard-Docker, D
6 Egor Sokolov, LW
7 Tyler Boucher, RW
8 Tyler Kleven, D
9 Roby Jarventie, LW
Ottawa Senators Expectations for 2022-23
Coming into the 2022-23 season there is a lot of excitement surrounding the organization. Thus far, with two major acquisitions in Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, the team looks to build on the momentum. Players like Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle look to strive towards career season. Both players are centres, beginning their third full season at the NHL level. For Pinto, he finds himself in an interesting scenario, as the Senators depth down the middle, is suspect. At this point, the Senators top centre, outside of Norris and Stutzle, would be Dylan Gambrell. Therefore, the opportunity for Pinto to grab a spot as a top-nine forward at centre, is very possible. He would be fighting for the position with other prospects, like Ridly Greig, Viktor Lodin, and Parker Kelly. Although, of these three, only Lodin and Kelly have limited abilities as a pivot, perhaps more suitable on the wing.
Player’s Potential and Projections
The Senators expectations for Pinto are high, but fans need to be cautious. After Pinto’s monster 2020-21 campaign at UND, he jumped right into the Sens lineup, with seven points in 12 games. However, his 2021-22 season was difficult. He had just one assist in five games, before having it ended on Nov, 13, 2021. That’s when he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury. Before the debate begins, we have to look at where will Pinto be best suited in this coming season. One comparable might be Norris. He spent two seasons at the University of Michigan. After that, he had a year to season in Belleville playing 56 games adding 61 points in 2019-20.
For the soon-t- be 22-year-old, Pinto might benefit from a few games at the AHL level, at least to start the year. Over the past three years, Pinto has only played 78 club team games (61 with UND and 17 with Ottawa). During that span, he was impressive for Team USA team at the 2020 World Junior Championships with seven points in points games. However, maybe an “innings-pitched” ceiling of between 50 or 60 games at the NHL level might be the ideal scenario> This would be for his growth, both physically and mentally. It is very important for him to be trending positively in all facets of his game with this being the last year of his entry-level deal. If the Senators do squeak into the post-season this year, they would definitely need Pinto fresh and contributing.