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A Projection on the Performance Outcome for Ottawa Senators Josh Norris in 2023-24

The projection for the Ottawa Senators and centre Joshua Norris creates high expectations coming into 2023-24. Senator fans were excited as recently Norris shed the notorious, non-contact yellow practice jersey. Furthermore, the team has very high expectations with new additions such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Dominik Kubalik, and Joonas Korpisalo. For Norris, his expectations are very high after coming off an injury in 2022-23. The two sets of expectations are very much aligned, as Norris currently slots in as the number two centre. Here we shall focus on Norris himself, and what we can project of him for this upcoming season.

Why Are the Expectations and Projections So High for Josh Norris in 2023-24

The 24-year-old comes into the season looking to live up to his sky-high expectations. Originally, the San Jose Sharks drafted him 19th overall in 2017, and he was a two-time team USA WJC member. Back in 2018, he came over to Ottawa in the infamous Erik Karlsson trade. He played two seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines before making the leap to the Sens pro ranks. In 2019-20, playing for the AHL’s Belleville Senators, Norris played in 56 games with 31 goals, 30 assists, for 61 points. The following year was his rookie campaign in the NHL. Then, in 2021-22, Norris elevated his status, recording 35 goals and being the primary triggerman on the top power play unit. The summer that followed saw Norris ink an impressive eight-year, $63.6 M deal. As goes with the territory, Norris needed to perform.

What Happened to These Projections Last Year

If we take ourselves back to October 2022, everyone was pumped seeing Norris, Tim Stutzle, and Shane Pinto down the middle. Even though the roster still had holes, such as a desired right-hand shot defenceman, things were looking up. Unfortunately, things would not go according to plan. Norris ended up injuring his shoulder, and the Sens went on a terrible slide. The Sens were essentially out of the playoff race before December, but that did have an upside. Due to the team being out of contention so early, it allowed them to ride their prospects. For example, Ridly Greig would eventually end up getting a call-up and doing well. Moreover, and more specific for our thoughts, was the elevated responsibility thrust upon Tim Stutzle and Shane Pinto. Both put up incredible seasons, Pinto burying 20 goals as a rookie, and Stutzle scoring 90 points.

The great seasons of the other two centres has helped the Senators immensely. It means that the roles and responsibilities of Josh Norris have become crystal clear. Additionally, and more importantly, it has helped extenuate his value. For one, his abilities as a two-way were missed by the club. Even though Pinto and Stutzle did a great job, the Sens ultimately missed the playoffs. To that point, the club’s defensive structure was a hot topic. Pinto was playing up in the lineup, and you could see it in the lack of offensive production from his line. Also, Stutzle was very well insulated between Claude Giroux and Brady Tkachuk. Tkachuk is a very responsible player, and Giroux had a veteran presence. That aside from the point both helped tremendously in the faceoff circle. Therefore, with Norris back in the lineup, Pinto can focus on playing a more defensive role. Also, Stutzle can concentrate on purely top-line goal scoring.

What Role Will Josh Norris Play in the Upcoming NHL Season

If Stutzle can take care of the top-line scoring, where does that leave Norris? As the second-line centre, with a top-loaded forward group, we can anticipate a positive projection for Josh Norris. As the second line, they may avoid some of the tougher defensive matchups, which can help lead to offence. Also, Norris will likely find winger Drake Batherson on his line, someone he has had great chemistry with in the past. Again, it will be interesting on the power play perhaps Batherson and Norris are needed together on the second unit. Alternatively, such was the case in 2021-22, when Norris was set up on his off-wing, top of the circle. The one-time alignment helped him hammer home 35 goals that season. Of which, 16 of those goals came via the power play.

24 Jason Robertson 0.783 1.114
24 Martin Necas 0.813 0.667
25 Drake Batherson 1.126 0.700
27 Michael Bunting 0.635 0.674
24 Josh Norris 1.089 0.699
25 Morgan Geekie 0.715 0.350
22 Arthur Kaliyev 0.775 0.409
22 Matias Maccelli 1.213 0.632
22 Philip Tomasino 0.955 0.467
21 Jack Quinn 1.167 0.506
21 John Peterka 0.971 0.405
27 Zack MacEwen 0.631 0.151
24 Kole Lind 0.684 0.267

Comparing Some Similar Players to the Career Trajectory of Josh Norris

There is one more consideration when making the Josh Norris projection for 2023-24. That is his career trajectory. He has still only played two full NHL seasons, for 133 career regular seasons affairs. Next, let’s look at some other current NHLers, who are around Norris’ age, and notably played a productive AHL season. This fact being significant as it helps players mature and develop into the professional game. As a note, even though not shown in table, the players are ranked from top to bottom by career NHL total points. As we can see a cluster of homogeneous observations, with these NHL PPG totals. Five of these players are around 0.700 PPG or a little less, with Matias Maccelli, the youngster of the group lagging slightly. Around this age of players, where Norris is 24, we can assume players will settle in on the optimal career PPG.

Even though there may not be enough evidence to present a trend, it is still interesting to think about. With that said, some factors are pointing Norris to a potential upswing. If he can build on his 2021-22, in which he recorded 55 points in 66 games or a 0.833 PPG. In addition, being on the second line should open up some space. The other point is to look for Norris to be more of a setup man, as a centre, and possibly not be on the top power unit. With all these factors taken into consideration, we can confidently predict Norris to approach a PPG of 0.900. Assuming he can play a healthy season, we are looking at around (75+ games) x (~ 0.9) lands us around 69 points or so. Not bad for a player, whose previous career high currently sits at 55.

How Does It All Fit Together?

It is not a perfect science, but the expectations for the upcoming season are high. Whether we are looking at the group as a whole, or more individually, the players and fans alike want big things. Josh Norris is no exception, and we have developed a projection for his season to come. We based our idea on where he plays in the lineup, the distribution of offence and defence, and his career trajectory. Norris can expect to have another big season, and hopefully, it can help propel the Senators to the playoffs.

Main photo: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports







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