Senators approval ratings: Which players are fans happy and unhappy with?

The Senators are a young team trying to take the next step in their competitive cycle, but are their players doing enough?

This is Part 7 of a series examining how fans feel about the most prominent players on their favourite Canadian NHL teams.

To qualify, a player must be a top-nine forward, top-four defenceman, or top-two goaltender according to the team's CapFriendly depth chart who appeared in at least 10 regular-season games with the club in 2022-23.

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The Ottawa Senators thought they were ready to push for the playoffs in 2022-23, but an 86-point campaign fell well short of expectations, as the Alex DeBrincat experiment lasted a single season.

While that's discouraging for Ottawa, the bones of a potent team remain in Canada's capital and the Senators might simply be one year behind schedule.

Last season we got a glimpse of the Senators' potential, even if the end result was far from spectacular. As Ottawa gears up for another attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17, it's a fine moment to take stock of its top players.

Let's get started:

Tim Stützle

Tim Stützle is coming off a stellar season with the Senators. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Tim Stützle is coming off a stellar season with the Senators. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 78 GP, 39 G, 51 A, 90 P — 55.08 xGF% (5v5)

Stützle went from an exciting rising player to a true game-breaker in 2022-23, making a definitive statement that he can be a top-line centre at the NHL level.

His offensive production skyrocketed, he drove play, he killed penalties for the first time, and his ice time increased by a significant margin. In other words, he provided just about everything you could hope to see from a foundational player in his early 20s.

Brady Tkachuk

Position: LW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 48 A, 83 P — 56.57 xGF% (5v5)

Tkachuk's step forward wasn't as profound as Stützle's, but he set career-highs in most significant offensive categories while producing stellar possession numbers.

One area where there was no progression was ice time, though, as Tkachuk's 18:38 average ranked third out of his five NHL seasons. It will be interesting to see if he can earn a larger workload in 2023-24 — and how that might affect his production.

Claude Giroux

Position: C/RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 35 G, 44 A, 79 P — 56.16 xGF% (5v5)

After three seasons where he seemed to be in decline, Giroux bounced back in his first season with the Senators. The 35-year-old set a career-high in goals while earning down-ballot Selke Trophy votes and logging his most penalty-killing time since 2018-19.

Father Time is looming as a threat to Giroux's production, but he took to life as a Senator in 2022-23 and seems likely to keep thriving in the season ahead.

Drake Batherson

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 22 G, 40 A, 62 P — 50.43 xGF% (5v5)

Like Tkachuk, Batherson saw his offensive production increase without requiring more ice time to make that happen.

Batherson more than doubled his previous career-high shot total (111) with 249 attempts on net, but a low shooting percentage (8.8%) kept his goal total relatively modest.

Shane Pinto

Position: C

2022-23 regular-season stats: 82 GP, 20 G, 15 A, 35 P — 50.73 xGF% (5v5)

In his first full NHL season, Pinto showed a knack for finding the twine while performing well in the faceoff dot (52.1%) — a rare trait for such a young centre.

The 22-year-old also made solid contributions to Ottawa's power play and did a good job of staying out of the box himself (18 PIM). While he received minimal penalty-killing time, he wasn't sheltered with a disproportionate amount of offensive-zone faceoffs.

Mathieu Joseph

Position: RW

2022-23 regular-season stats: 56 GP, 3 G, 15 A, 18 P — 50.02 xGF% (5v5)

Joseph played a defensive bottom-six role for the Senators in 2022-23 with a defensive-zone start rate of 63.9% at 5v5 and the second-most penalty-killing minutes per game among Ottawa's forwards (2:31).

Offensively he didn't contribute much, though a shooting percentage of 4.5% suggests there was some misfortune in his goal total.

Thomas Chabot

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 68 GP, 11 G, 30 A, 41 P — 51.34 xGF% (5v5)

Chabot's numbers last season were more or less in line with what he's produced in recent years as he's been unable to replicate the magic of his 55-point season in 2018-19.

The 26-year-old's possession metrics were quite strong despite not playing sheltered minutes, but his ice time dropped more than a minute per game from 2021-22. His game was also a little rougher last season as he tied his career-high in hits, and set new career-bests in blocks and penalty minutes.

Jakob Chychrun

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats (w/OTT): 12 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 P — 47.26 xGF% (5v5)

Chychrun didn't play many games with Ottawa after a trade from the Arizona Coyotes, but it's clear the Senators intend to deploy him in all situations. In his time with his new team he ranked third among defencemen in both penalty-killing and power-play time and his role is likely to grow in 2023-24.

The veteran's possession numbers with the Senators were middling and his ice time declined from where it was with Arizona but the sample was small. He'll be a hard player to evaluate with Ottawa until this season concludes.

Jake Sanderson

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 77 GP, 4 G, 28 A, 32 P — 50.62 xGF% (5v5)

Sanderson didn't have the flashiest rookie year, but he took on a huge workload (21:55) as a 20-year-old and played a difficult defensive role. He topped the Senators — and ranked fifth in the NHL — in penalty-killing ice time per game (3:17) and started most of his shifts in his own zone.

The rookie also contributed with the man advantage with 17 power-play points and posted solid possession numbers. Sanderson's strong rookie season resulted in an eight-year extension from the Senators.

Artem Zub

Position: D

2022-23 regular-season stats: 53 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 10 P — 52.08 xGF% (5v5)

Zub skated approximately 20 minutes per night for the Senators in 2022-23, playing low-event hockey that helped drive low goal totals at both ends of the ice. He didn't do as much penalty killing as most defencemen with his stay-at-home profile, but he held up defensively.

The 27-year-old also set a career-high in hits per game (2.47) and should be throwing his 200-pound frame around again in 2023-24.

Anton Forsberg

Position: G

2022-23 regular-season stats: 11-11-2 with a 3.26 GAA, .902 SV% and -1.8 GSAA

After starting more than half of Ottawa's games in 2021-22 with strong results (+14.5 GSAA), Forsberg fell back to earth last season.

While he was unable to replicate his earlier success as a Senator, he still provided approximately league-average goaltending in 25 starts. The Senators would probably be happy with a similar performance this season as they've imported Joonas Korpisalo to take the starter's role.