Thomas Chabot sent to Saint John by Senators

Senators’ top prospect Thomas Chabot is obviously disappointed that things didn’t work out in Ottawa this season, but is looking forward to going back to Saint John and hopefully representing Canada at World Juniors.

OTTAWA — After playing in just one of the Ottawa Senators‘ first nine games, 19-year-old defenceman Thomas Chabot knew a trip back to the major junior ranks was likely.

So he wasn’t surprised to learn Wednesday that he was being sent back to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“For sure I wanted to be here for the season, but at the same time I look forward going back to junior,” he said. “And in Saint John we have a real good team and I’ll also have the chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors again this year so that’s something I’m looking forward to.”

In the one game he did play, Chabot saw a mere 7:09 of ice time in a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With the Senators’ top six defencemen playing well, coach Guy Boucher saw no reason to mix things up just to give Chabot, Ottawa’s 18th-overall draft pick in 2015, an opportunity to get in a game.

“We’re not a development league here,” said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. “With the way a lot of our defencemen have stepped up this year and the way they’ve played and how they’ve adjusted to the new system we owed it to them more to keep them in the lineup than to put Thomas in.”

Despite not playing, Dorion believes being around the team and practising with them daily will be invaluable to Chabot’s development going forward.

“All kids think they work hard and you might work hard in junior,” Dorion said. “But when you’re on the ice with some of the best defencemen in the league or maybe one of the best defencemen in the league or maybe some of the most intense forwards that practise (so hard), you have to step up your game.

“He’s very smart and casual and a lot of things come easy for him, so he learned that he had to push all the time and this was one of the reasons we decided to keep him so he could realize whether it’s next year or two years from now when he’s here that he’s always got to push, no matter how good you are.”

After a disappointing showing at the club’s development camp in June, Chabot returned home, regrouped and was rewarded for his hard work making the Senators roster out of camp.

“I don’t think there is anything I could have done more,” Chabot said. “It’s just about timing and the other guys were really playing well and there’s no way I could get into the lineup.”

Chabot said he benefited from going on the Senators nine-day, three-game road trip through Western Canada last week.

“I learned what the NHL is all about,” he said. “I kind of knew, I had an idea before, but to actually be around and on one road trip with the guys I really know what it takes and how hard you have to work to be in the NHL, so it’s something I’ll bring back to junior to get ready for next year.”

Ideally the Senators will be looking for Chabot to have a strong performance at the world junior tournament as Canada’s lone returning defenceman.

“You can’t hide in a tournament like that and he should play a significant role as a returning defenceman,” said Dorion. “For us and for him it will be an experience that should help him achieve success in the NHL.”

The Senators do not plan to recall a defenceman from Binghamton of the American Hockey League at this time, however they may have to recall a forward if Mark Stone is unable to play Thursday.

Stone suffered an upper body injury in the second period in Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win over Carolina and the Senators were still awaiting an update on his status.

Also Wednesday, the Senators acquired goaltender Mike Condon from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.

Condon has appeared in one game with the Penguins this season and stopped each of the seven shots he faced in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 loss at Nashville on Oct. 22.

The Senators host the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night.

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