The Ottawa Senators have locked up their top young defenseman in Jake Sanderson, giving him an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $8.05 million.
Sanderson, 21, was going to be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2023-24 season after the conclusion of his entry-level contract, a deal he signed near the end of the 2021-22 season, although he didn’t play that year. His new deal will make him the 14th highest-paid defenseman in the league next season, with his closest comparables being John Carlson, Brent Burns, Jacob Trouba, and teammate Thomas Chabot.
Sanderson had a solid rookie season with 4 goals, 28 assists, and 32 points in 77 games, which was tied for 10th among rookies, but second among rookie defensemen after Owen Power. Sanderson was also solid in the play-driving department, with a 51.3% 5v5 shot attempt share and a 50.11% 5v5 expected goal share, which was about where the Senators sat as a team in those categories.
Sanderson was the fifth-overall pick for the Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft, one of two picks that they had in the top five that year along with Tim Stutzle at third overall. Sanderson spent two years at the University of North Dakota after the draft before he finally signed with the Sens and played for them in 2022-23.
The Sens have had a busy offseason as they’ve had to navigate several obstacles, including finding a new team for Alex DeBrincat and getting Shane Pinto signed under the salary cap, with the latter situation still ongoing. Ottawa moved DeBrincat to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a conditional first-round pick, a fourth-round pick, Dominik Kubalik, and Donovan Sebrango, and also made a couple additions in free agency with Vladimir Tarasenko and Joonas Korpisalo. The Senators currently have just under $900,000 in salary cap space with Pinto and Egor Sokolov left to sign.