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Jake Sanderson Has Been Impactful with Ottawa

Jake Sanderson has been as good as I thought he would be in his first NHL season. We are only 25 games into it and yet, I feel like he’s going to get better rather than hit a wall. The Ottawa Senators are lucky to have him.

He’s already the top-scoring rookie defenseman. His 11 points just edge out Montreal’s Kaiden Guhle who has ten. Remember, he was rehabbing a hand injury but in August when I caught up with him, he was fine.

Over the past few seasons, I had a chance to see a lot of Sanderson. In college and with Team USA. He is a true hybrid defenseman.

“I like to say I’m a hybrid guy. I like to be put on the power play and the penalty kill as well. Whether we need a goal or down a goal. I like to be the first guy over the boards. Logging those minutes. Being that guy at both ends, “ Sanderson explained.

Watching Sanderson practice last year at World Junior Camp was eye-opening. He was already an NHLer in my eyes. This season, he’s been averaging 20:55 minutes per game. He’s attempted 100 shots already. He only has one goal, and surely, that’s going to change at some point.

I asked Sanderson if he was good for around 20 minutes or so per game and he quickly answered back, “absolutely.”

I appreciate the fact that he has 36 blocks as well. Not all shifts have been perfect for the rookie but wait a season or two and he will be the #1 in Ottawa. Before the season started, he was excited to get to work.

“It’s a long time coming for the Ottawa Senators. It’s cool to see some big names come in. I’ve been there all summer, so I’ve seen guys come in like (Claude) Giroux and (Alex) DeBrincat,” said Sanderson.

Sanderson is smart. He knew the Senators were going to need some veteran leadership to have a good season.

“We have a young team right now. Seeing Giroux and (Cam) Talbot come in now is important,” Sanderson noted.

Sanderson has great energy on and off the ice. It’s going to serve him well as he gets further into his NHL career.

“I’m feeling really good about my game right now,” Sanderson said at the Upper Deck NHLPA Rookie Showcase. “It’s all good. I’ve been grinding this summer and excited to jump in with this squad.”

This is a rarity. We’ve seen a few young defensemen come in and have an impact in their rookie seasons, but that’s not the norm. You would never know he was 20. Someday, he will be in the Norris conversation.

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