It’s a quiet Friday night in February and we find ourselves checking capfriendly.com. Hold up, hey. Unfortunately for the Ottawa Senators one of their star, young core players, this time defenceman Jake Sanderson has an injury. Let’s not dwell on their place in the standings. In addition, their backup goalie, Anton Forsberg, is also on the shelf. And, to call to relevance the capfriendly investigation, Forsberg’s salary is being used as cap relief. Big picture, does it matter all that much?
Doesn’t look like Jake Sanderson will play Saturday. Anton Forsberg is on the ice #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 8, 2024
It Appears the Ottawa Senators Jake Sanderson Will Miss Time With Injury
This dilemma brings to the forefront of one bigger underlying problem the Ottawa Senators seem to have. Why can’t they rise above adversity? So, it does matter, just not in the way we think an injury would impact a team. This inability to rise up does fall on the players in some respects. Furthermore, when the Senators have a full roster, they seem to perform so well. But whether it was Shane Pinto this year, or Josh Norris last year, or heck, even Thomas Chabot in 2021-22, the Sens need to learn how to win with key pieces out of the lineup. All teams have to deal with this type of adversity, and still find ways to get it done.
Jacques Martin says Anton Forsberg “isn’t quite ready yet”, so he won’t serve as the backup to Joonas Korpisalo vs Toronto. (Mandolese will do that).
Martin also says they will have a better idea about Jake Sanderson’s status as next week unfolds.
He’s not skating yet.
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) February 10, 2024
Let’s not undermine the injury to Jake Sanderson, and hope he makes a speedy recovery. He was injured in the January 31st game versus the hated Detroit Red Wings. Moreover, he hasn’t been practicing with the club on their break, and today is now some 11 days later. Therefore, we can begin to become concerned about the seriousness of the injury. Not to say it will be long-term, but purely speculating here, perhaps more week-to-week type of scenario. It is concerning that he has not been practicing. We will know about his status this week.
What Does Jake Sanderson Brings the Ottawa Senators Lineup?
Sanderson is following up an impressive rookie season, with a slump-less sophomore campaign. He has collected seven goals and 17 assists in 47 games thus far. His point share has already climbed to a nice 3.7. Furthermore, he is a very strong skater and logs 22:58 per night. His straight-line skating is extremely fast and effortless and helps him control the game. The Senators are very high on the young defenceman and will struggle to replace his minutes with him out of the lineup.
Is Hamonic Really the Best Option?
If the Senators were in a tight playoff race, this is where accountability is required. These are the times when management must step up, and find suitable replacements. Their internal fill-in is Travis Hamonic who plays 14:44 a night. There may have been a point in Hamonic’s career when he could’ve been a top-four defenceman on a playoff team. Conversely, 2023-24 is not that time. The 33-year-old cannot overcome his (career-worst) CF% Rel of -11.7 by throwing some big hits and blocking shots. The point is if the Sens were in a tight playoff race, they’d need to replace Sanderson’s game. That would most likely be via the trade route.
Will the Prospects be Ready?
Yet, the Senators are not in a playoff race. That usually means the brass must give prospects the opportunity. It doesn’t look like that will come to fruition but they are deserving players in Belleville should the call come. Names like Tyler Kleven, Max Guenette, or even Lassi Thomson could all fit the bill.
Is a Trade Coming?
So, back to their salary situation. It appears Forsberg is close to a return. Right now, the backup for tonight’s game to Joonas Korpisalo is listed as Kevin Mandolese. However, when Forsberg does return, the Senators would be right around the $1.7M of LTIR space used over the cap. Hence, they need to make a roster move to be at the cap. The obvious choice would seem to be Sanderson to go on LTIR. As a further note, Ridly Greig is the only current Sen who can be sent down without clearing waivers. (Not counting Mandolese, Sogaard is too, but already in Belleville technically). If not, a rostered player would have to be sent down, to clear cap space for Forsberg to come back. Is a trade coming? Maybe, but not for cap relief this time.
One further note on players playing down in Belleville. Their young-Finnish prospect, Roby Jarventie will miss the remainder of the season. He had knee surgery and won’t return this year. Jarventie had been playing very well on the farm, with 20 points in 22 games. Also, he had appeared in seven games with Ottawa this year, which did wonders for his experience and development going forward.
Main photo: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports