Officially eliminated from playoff contention, it’s no secret that the Ottawa Senators’ 2020-21 season has been far from the success they hoped for. With that said, many Senators are looking ahead to a possible championship in the 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championship.
Several players, all at different points in their professional hockey careers, are looking internationally to make the year turnaround for themselves and their personal hockey performance. Individually, these players bring a lot of talent with them that could be an asset to any team at the international level.
Connor Brown – Canada
The first player who could find himself playing in the 2021 IIHF World Championship is Connor Brown. Brown, who is from Etobicoke, Ontario, would represent Canada at the tournament.
The winger was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent four seasons playing for the Maple Leafs until they traded him to the Senators on July 1, 2019. It was after Brown’s move across the province when he started performing the best he ever has. In his first season with the Senators last year, he played a full season, scoring a career second-best 16 goals and career-high 27 assists for 43 points. This season, he has a career-best 17 goals in only 51 games played.
Most recently, Brown made some franchise history after becoming the only player to score a goal in eight consecutive games. On May 3, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported that Hockey Canada had reached out to Brown with an invite to play for Team Canada in the upcoming tournament. And Brown said that he’s interested.
If Brown ends up at the tournament, it would be his first as he has yet to represent Canada on the international stage. With the kind of season he’s had, he’s going to be an asset to the Canadian roster.
Drake Batherson – Canada
The second player who could find himself in familiar territory as a teammate of Brown’s on Team Canada is Drake Batherson. Unlike Brown, Batherson is at an earlier stage of his professional hockey career.
Although born in the USA, Batherson represents team Canada on the International stage. In his first full season playing with the Senators, he has 17 goals and 32 points in 51 games played so far this season.
The 23-year-old played for Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championship, winning a gold medal. There, he posted seven goals in seven games played in the tournament.
Like Brown, Batherson has added his name to franchise accolades. Before Brown’s eight-consecutive goal performance, Batherson tied Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Bob Kudelski as the only Senators players to have scored in six consecutive games.
On May 3, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported that Hockey Canada had reached out to Batherson with an invite to play for Team Canada in the upcoming tournament. He said that he’s interested. And like Brown, Batherson has a lot of talent to bring to Team Canada’s roster.
Thomas Chabot – Canada
The 24-year-old defenceman said in April that he would be willing to represent Canada if he got the opportunity.
“You want to play some more games and it’s a fun time when you get the chance to meet the other guys from other teams and play with them. You learn more on and off the ice so it’s always good.”(from SNAPSHOTS: Thomas Chabot would consider suiting up for Team Canada at the worlds, Ottawa Sun, 04/21/2021)
Although it’s unclear whether or not Chabot has gotten that phone call offering him a spot to play, it’s still a possibility. He has experience representing Canada in the IIHF World U18 Championship and twice in the World Junior Championship. Additionally, he has also represented Canada twice at the World Championship, totaling 16 games played in the tournament as well as 8 points.
Josh Norris – USA
The outlier non-Canadian to possibly be suiting up for the IIHF World Championship from the Senators is Josh Norris.
Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported that Josh Norris confirmed that Team USA has reached out to him asking if he’s interested in suiting up for the red, white and blue. Norris said that he would be thrilled to get the chance.
In his rookie season thus far, Norris has posted 15 goals and 17 assists in 51 games played. If he makes it to the tournament, it would be the first time he represents USA at the international level. He played for Team USA four times throughout his short career — World U-17 Hockey Challenge, IIHF World U18 Championship, and twice in the World Junior Championship, scoring six total points in only seven total games played in the 2019 tournament. Norris’ young talent would be a big asset to Team’s USA’s roster.
Time Will Tell
Although the players outlined above are the most likely to be interested in suiting up for the international stage, there is still time for players to make up their minds. With the playoffs officially off the table for the Senators, it’s likely more players will be making that decision in the coming weeks. Players like Brady Tkachuk, Nick Paul and Colin White are all players who have been in the conversation to go to the World Championships as well. Whoever does end up in the tournament, they will be in action later this month on May 21 in Riga, Latvia.
Covering the Ottawa Senators here at The Hockey Writers. I am a journalism graduate student at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. I previously covered University of Toronto Varsity Blues hockey.