Coming in at number two in our top-10 series is 2017 fourth-round pick, Drake Batherson. The 21-year-old right-winger continues to exceed expectations and is now looking to cement his spot in the Ottawa Senators’ lineup. The team is currently slim on right-wingers, so the infusion of Batherson’s skill on that right side will definitely make for a much better team this season.
If you’ve missed out on our earlier segments, we’ve got you covered:
- #10 Shane Pinto
- #9 Jonathan Davidsson
- #8 Mads Søgaard
- #7 Lassi Thomson
- #6 Jacob Bernard-Docker
- #5 Alex Formenton
- #4 Josh Norris
- #3 Logan Brown
I think it’s fair to say that Batherson has been nothing short of spectacular in the AHL after leading the Belleville Senators with 62 points (22 goals and 40 assists) in 59 games. Batherson also received a 20 game stint in the NHL where he showed he could keep up as he recorded nine points during that span.
He also took the time to bulk up this summer as he now stands at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds. Having that size will definitely help him at the next level.
I fully expect Batherson to make the Senators out of camp and have a great rookie season, as the club will surely need it.
Batherson is a big body and isn’t afraid to use it to his advantage. Unlike Logan Brown, Batherson uses his big frame to shield the puck from opponents, make room in front of the net or even lay the big hit every once in a while. He’ll even stand up for his teammates too.
Batherson is an extremely intelligent forward who reads plays well. He’s also not a bad two-way player as he defends his own zone quite well, getting his stick in passing lanes and using his body. Batherson isn’t the fastest skater out there, but he always seems to find open spaces and create grade-A scoring chances.
Where Batherson really excels, however, is his vision and ability to create scoring chances. He just has outstanding playmaking abilities. His passes are always crisp and rarely does he miss his intended target. He’ll even make that beauty saucer pass every now and then when needed. Batherson just makes players around him better, which is one of the best traits an NHL player can have.
Batherson’s ability to create turnovers is a key part of his game. His aggressive style of play often leads to opponents scrambling with the puck and the winger takes full advantage of those mistakes. He isn’t afraid to get in those dirty areas and use his stick to deflect pucks towards the net. His size allows him to make room in front of the opposing net. It seems as though general manager Pierre Dorion is targeting these types of players, guys who will do anything to create scoring chances and are always puck hungry like Batherson.
He also displays fantastic hands in tight as he’s able to deke out defenders and goalies with ease. This is another strength that allows him to find open spaces.
Areas of Improvement
While Batherson seems destined for first-line duties in the NHL one day, he still has areas in his game in which he needs to improve. As mentioned earlier, his speed is an area he could work on to become a bigger threat at the NHL level.
“Batherson’s skating has always been a minor issue. There are times I think his feet look heavy and other times I think it’s fine.”From: “Pronman: 2019 NHL farm system rankings: No. 12 Ottawa Senators, 2019-20 edition” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic, 08/23/2019
While his average speed isn’t overly concerning at the AHL level, it could become a factor at the NHL level. Smart players tend to find open spaces even if they lack speed, Batherson fits this category.
He should also work on his consistency, as there were times last season where Batherson would go a few games pointless and then there were times where he seemed unstoppable. This was seen when he was called up to the NHL. He quickly made an impact in Ottawa where he recorded five points in his first three games. But then proceeded by recording one goal and one assist in his next 13 games.
Projection and NHL Comparison
I fully believe Batherson will become a star in the NHL. A first-line winger who can put up 60-to-70 points per season in his prime.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but I believe Batherson shows many similarities to Mark Stone. They both aren’t the best skaters but always seem to find open spaces and create great scoring chances. They also have underrated shots. Both stand at 6-foot-3 as well.
Expected NHL Debut
Barring any injuries, Batherson is a near-lock to make the big team right out of camp. He should seamlessly find a spot in the Senators’ top-six where I expect him to put up anywhere between 30-to-60 points in a full season.