No one on the Ottawa Junior Senators is happier to see the upcoming playoffs than defender Zachary Salloum.
“The last few years at this time (of the season) I was thinking my season is over, time to hit the gym and get ready for next year,” the 20-year-old said.
But, thanks to an early December 2017 trade, Salloum will be lacing his skates up for the Central Canada Hockey League playoffs on a team with championship aspirations. He was playing for the Navan Grads when the season started, a team mired in last place in the CCHL’s Yzerman Division with only nine wins on the season. He was traded to a team that has already won the Yzerman regular season division title with a 45-8-2-5 overall record, good for 97 points.
“I’m super excited for the playoffs,” the defenseman said. “The opportunity to compete in the playoffs is an adrenaline rush.” Instead of hitting the gym, Salloum pointed out, “This year I have a lot of hockey ahead of me.”
“I was very excited about the trade,” he explained. “I enjoyed my time with Navan, but it was time to move on.”
Salloum wasn’t really surprised by the trade, just very pleased it was to Ottawa.
“I had a great relationship with the Navan front office and we had discussed that if things didn’t go well in November and December they’d be open for a trade,” he recalled. Things couldn’t have worked out better for the native of Orléans, Ontario or, the Jr. Senators, who are getting one of the league’s best defenders.
Salloum is one of the most prolific scoring defensemen in the CCHL. In the 18 games he’s played with Ottawa, he’s scored 15 points on one goal and 14 assists. If you count the 33 points (11G, 22A) he scored in 24 games with the Grads he has 48 points in 42 games, averaging more than 1.2 points a game.
Don’t be fooled by Salloum’s offensive numbers however. The 5-9, 173-pound CCHL veteran thinks of himself first as a defenseman.
“I take pride in playing defense,” he explained. “I always put myself in the right spot and have my stick in the right position covering passing lanes. I try to think one step ahead of the play and use my speed.
“I’ve always played defense since I starting playing at 7,” he added. “I loved playing from the backend. I just got used to seeing everything in front of me.”
Salloum was a perfect fit for the defense-conscious Jr. Senators, who are allowing under 2.4 goals a game.
“It was an easy transition (joining the Senators),” said Salloum. “I was familiar with their (defensive) system.”
Besides giving Salloum a taste of playoff action, he enjoyed something else with the Jr. Senators, celebrating a regular season division championship.
“It was something I hadn’t had an opportunity to do before,” he said.
No matter how long the post-season lasts for Salloum and the Jr. Senators, he still has a lot of hockey to play in front of him. In December of 2016, he committed to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York to play Division I hockey.
“I’m ecstatic, super happy to be playing in college,” he remarked.