Ottawa Senators: The future looks bright with Josh Norris

Josh Norris #9 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Josh Norris #9 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

Josh Norris looks every inch a bright star of the future for the Ottawa Senators.

As expected, it has been a tough start to the 2020-21 NHL season for the Ottawa Senators who are currently propping up the North Division with a 1-5-1 record. They dropped a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, and they will be hoping to avoid a similar outcome tonight against the same opponent. However, there has been one bright spot in Josh Norris who is emerging as a real stud for this franchise.

Okay, so maybe one bright spot is a bit harsh given that everyone’s favorite German in Tim Stutzle (sorry, Leon Draisaitl) who has shown flashes of his undoubted potential, but there is no doubt that Josh Norris has been the standout star for the Senators in the first couple of weeks of the season, a fact that might be surprising to some.

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Selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Norris played three games in the 2019-20 season but was held pointless with a +2 rating, while averaging 17:55 minutes of total ice time. Acquired by the Senators as part of the blockbuster trade that sent elite defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in 2018, Norris is viewed as a high-end prospect by the Ottawa front office and he was a key piece of that deal.

And, after impressing Head Coach D.J. Smith throughout Training Camp, Norris won a spot on the Opening Night roster and he’s taken his opportunity with both hands. On a top line with Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson, Norris has truly thrived on the biggest stage so far and he’s been arguably the best player for the Senators through the first seven games of the year.

Josh Norris is a real rising star for the Ottawa Senators

It maybe shouldn’t be a surprise that the 21-year-old has handled the transition to the NHL with ease given that he recorded 31 goals and 30 assists for 61 points in 56 games for the Belleville Senators in the American Hockey League last year, but he is rapidly establishing himself as one of the most promising young faces of this rebuild.

After recording his first NHL goal against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 19, Norris has gone from strength-to-strength and he leads the Senators in points with 5 (2 G, 3 A) and power play points with 3 (2 G, 1). He’s been an offensive machine and he scored his team’s only goal in their 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, following his own rebound not once, but twice before eventually beating Thatcher Demko on the power play.

Josh Norris (9)
Josh Norris #9 of the Ottawa Senators. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

Norris finished with seven shots on goal in that game and, watching the tape back, he was all over the ice and was a real threat all night long, battling for pucks behind the net and along the boards, always looking to make a play and he made Demko work with his willingness to always shoot the puck. Although it was a bad night for his team, it was another reminder of Norris’ upside and just exactly what he is capable of.

The center is logging an average of 16:26 of total ice time and he’s already racked up 11 hits, while he has also recorded three blocked shots and got two Takeaways to his name. Those stats are encouraging for the Ottawa Senators given that they lack a real dynamic two-way center outside of Brady Tkachuk, and Norris is certainly showing early on that he can become that player for this franchise.

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Overall, and while still a small sample size, Josh Norris has emerged as a real stud for the Ottawa Senators and he has easily been their best player, their most potent offensive weapon and their biggest source of encouragement in the early stages of the 2020-21 season. And, with this year being all about development for the franchise’s younger players as they continue to rebuild and plot ahead for the future, they can be increasingly confident that Josh Norris will be a huge part of that going forward based on his current exploits.