Erik Brannstrom deserves a good shot

Ottawa Senators # 26 Erik Brannstrom (Photo by Claus Andersen / Getty Images)

Finally healthy and back in the Senators roster, the talented defenseman deserves some playing time

Since being acquired as the centerpiece of the trade from Mark Stone, Erik Brannstrom has struggled to find a consistent place in training during his time in the nation’s capital, despite his game clearly surpassing some of his peers. The sheer disconnect between the Senators and the word “rebuild” is confusing, last season DJ Smith and the staff continually seated Brannstrom in favor of “veteran” players who offered little or nothing on the ice, wasting ice time. against Braydon Coburn and Josh Brown when a team is in the middle of a rebuild, that’s not even debatable, it’s just plain wrong.

However, Brannstrom got some significant ice time towards the end of the 2020-21 season, and he showed a ton of potential playing with Artem Zub in the second pairing. The 22-year-old offensive defenseman finished the season with 2 goals and 13 points in 30 games as well as a solid +3 rating, while also posting some huge underlying numbers.

It looked like Brannstrom had earned a place in the squad for the following season, but that inclination would crumble with the signing of fellow defender Michael Del Zotto, who was essentially hired to take the young defender’s job. Due to the signing of Del Zotto, the Senators fired Brannstrom due to the team’s surplus of one-sided contracts, his two-pronged contract made him a candidate for Belleville, while Del Zotto sat in the press forum in favor of a Victor Mete in difficulty. , laughable. At the start of the season, it was clear that the team valued Del Zotto and the others over Brannstrom, which wouldn’t make sense even for the most casual fan. A broken hand sidelined Brannstrom for almost a month, but he’s back after being activated out of IR on December 29.

Now back with the big club, and despite the Senators’ 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, I thought Brannstrom was one of the best players on the team, and the offensive dimension he brings. at the rear, should compliment a decor that does not offer much offense or mobility apart from Thomas Chabot. Brannstrom could also be the quarterback for the struggling Senators second powerhouse unit. Del Zotto was lifted in early December in a move that signaled a shift of the team into “development mode”.

If DJ Smith follows this statement there should be no reason for Brannstrom to stay in the press box for another game this season, it is as clear as the day that the Swedish defender has gone out of his way to justify a meaningful time in the league. NHL. While the coaching staff are still not thrilled with Brannstrom, the least they can do is showcase their asset by offering him NHL games to show his talent to other NHL teams.

The rest of this season is a great opportunity for the Senators to assess what they have, without making hasty decisions that could extend the rebuilding schedule.

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