Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot is facing his second lengthy injury-related absence of the young season. He will miss a minimum of four weeks after undergoing MRIs and other tests to determine the severity of a leg injury, although surgery is not required, reports Darren Dreger of TSN. Further to Dreger’s report, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch confirms the Senators will place Chabot on long-term injured reserve.
Chabot, 26, has spent his entire career in the Canadian capital since Ottawa drafted him 18th overall in 2015. His growth into a top-pairing caliber defender hasn’t expedited the Senators’ post-Erik Karlsson rebuild as they had hoped, but that’s far from being Chabot’s fault. His eight-year, $64MM extension signed in 2019 has aged well, as he’s produced at a 0.62 points per game clip over the life of the deal and has averaged nearly 26 minutes per contest since the 2020-21 campaign began. He’s historically been a positive possession force on a team that’s struggled to control play and remains the most valuable all-around defenseman on the roster.
That’s why a second long-term absence for him this season is so demoralizing for a team that finally looked to be gaining traction, going 6-4-0 in their past ten games. Chabot had played just two games since returning from a right-hand fracture that kept him out for all of November. The Senators are still at the .500 mark and sit only ahead of the Buffalo Sabres in terms of points percentage in the Atlantic Division, and they remain squarely out of the playoff picture as the calendar shifts to December. MoneyPuck lists their playoff odds at 30.9% at the time of writing, though, and given how many games in hand they have on the rest of the league, they’re one hot streak away from putting themselves back in the postseason conversation.
It’ll be difficult without Chabot, however, as his absence creates a domino effect felt throughout the Senators’ blueline. Head coach D.J. Smith has attempted to alleviate this by spreading out the Sens’ three best remaining defenders – Jakob Chychrun, Jake Sanderson and Artem Zub – on three different pairings. That still means giving tougher assignments than desired to depth defenders like Jacob Bernard-Docker and Travis Hamonic, though, and managing his blueliners’ ice time will suddenly become a crucial part of Smith’s job – as long as he still has it. External pressure is mounting for the Senators to make a change behind the bench after an all-too-familiar sluggish start, but under new ownership and management, the Senators appear content to let Smith lead the way for a while longer.
Chabot has four assists in nine games on the season while averaging 24:22 per game.