It wasn’t hard to find Thomas Chabot in the NHL’s scoring stats Wednesday morning.
Not only was he tops among defencemen with 4-16-20 points, the 21-year-old was ranked fourth in league scoring. He’s the first blueliner to reach the 20-point plateau in the first 15 games since Brian Leetch (4-17-21) with the New York Rangers in 2000-01.
Yes, that’s pretty heady company.
But coach Guy Boucher noted after Wednesday’s skate at the Canadian Tire Centre that one of Chabot’s best attributes is his ability to stay on an even keel, and that’s why he’s made so much progress since the club took him No. 18 overall in 2015.
“He gained confidence by being the guy in junior, the guy for Hockey Canada (at the world juniors) and having success there,” Boucher said. “He came back last year and you could feel there was a man in the boy that was growing.
“He needed to get some reps in the American league (last year) and he took that very seriously. Last year, he grew. To me, there’s no drastic improvement in a short period of time. It’s a great improvement over three years where we’ve seen a young man grow.
“Is it a fast growth? Yes, it equals his talent and his potential. Through all of that, the No. 1 thing for him is humility, and that’s why his success keeps impressing everybody because he keeps that humility and simplicity needed to be consistent.”
Chabot, who played 24:23 on 29 shifts against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, indicated the extra playing time has helped his confidence.
“When you watch (Tuesday), I got lots of ice time,” Chabot said. “Every time you step on the ice, you don’t spend a lot of time on the bench so it helps you get momentum and going. I’m happy with the way that it’s going.
“(Tuesday) was a great team effort and it was a great win for the team.”
Yes, and Chabot was a key contributor to the win. As far as Boucher is concerned, it’s all part of maturity.
“Consistency is the toughest thing to acquire in any sport, and for a young guy that’s almost an impossibility to be consistent,” Boucher said. “That’s the definition of being young and having to learn the details of the game that make you become a pro over time.
“I think, right now, the dangerous thing is not to start getting excited about things that I hear like trophies and things like that. If you care about the kid, that’s the worst thing you can do. Right now, he’s on a solid path where his humility is driving him in the right direction.
“Because of that, his attention to detail is terrific, his work ethic is great and his team-first sense of where the game should be is sending him in the right path. Anything else that’s added to that right now doesn’t serve him at all.”
Boucher doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Chabot.
“He’s a young guy that still needs to be shielded from some of the outside influences that would take him off that track,” Boucher said. “It’s important that he keeps a level head on what he needs to do and he’s been doing it. That’s what’s impressive right now.”
A key to Chabot’s success is his ability to skate and move the puck because of the pace the game is played at.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of it,” Chabot said. “I’ve always been a pretty good skater. The game is so fast. We’ve got to use that and I’m just trying to use it as much as I can.”
He hasn’t looked at the scoring stats and gives plenty of credit to the players around him for helping him take the next step in his career.
“I hear about it and the guys kind of joke around here,” Chabot said. “Like I said to the guys last night, if it wasn’t for them, nothing would happen. The guys I’m playing with are playing well. I’m just trying to help the team to win.
“It’s not like I have 40 goals. I’ve got a bunch of assists, so the guys put the (puck) in and they made great plays. The reason I’m doing well is because my team is helping, too.”