The 2018-19 season was a defining one for the Ottawa Senators. They moved on from three key players, namely Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene, and Mark Stone. So far, they’ve been able to find suitable replacements for two of them; Thomas Chabot has been their offensively gifted defenseman, and Josh Norris has been a solid centreman in their top-six.
Now, with the emergence of Drake Batherson, they have a reliable winger who puts up points and is quickly becoming a superstar. In fact, Batherson and Stone have very similar career trajectories, beginning at the draft where they were both taken by the Senators after the third round (121st overall and 178th overall respectively). Let’s take a look at how these two compare.
Statistical Similarities Between Batherson and Stone
An easy way to compare the two wingers is to look at their production similarities during their age 22 and 23 seasons. Points-wise, the numbers are very similar. Batherson has put up 62 points in 80 games these past two seasons, while Stone put up 125 points in 155 games over two seasons between 2014 and 2016. That averages out to 0.78 points-per-game (P/G) for Batherson, while Stone produced 0.81 P/G.
Over those same 80 games, Batherson punished opponents with 157 hits, compared to only 104 hits in 155 games for Stone. In terms of takeaways and giveaways, there’s another diversion in stats, where Stone was a +129, and Batherson sits at -18 (subtracting giveaways from takeaways). So one key difference between the two is Batherson’s ability to lay the body, while Stone seems to use his stick more to extract the puck from opponents.
Looking into advanced statistics, the similarities continue. Beginning with Fenwick for percentage (FF%), which measures shot attempt differential in all situations, including missed shots but not blocked shots, Batherson’s FF% is 53.8% over the past two seasons, while Stone’s was 53.3% over his age 22 and 23 seasons.
When you adjust to Relative Fenwick for percentage (FF% rel), which individualizes that measure further, listing the percentage point difference between a player’s Fenwick and their team’s Fenwick while they aren’t on the ice, Batherson shows his value. He sports a 10 FF% rel, while Stone comes in at 7.5 FF% rel (all stats from hockey-reference.com).
These two measures have flaws, but they approximate a player’s ability to drive play, as players who produce more shooting opportunities tend to score more than their opponents.
On-Ice Similarities Between Batherson and Stone
One thing that stands out to me when I watch Batherson play is his ability to just make the simple, yet effective play. He doesn’t always bring a ton of flash, but he understands where the puck needs to go and makes the play quickly. It speaks to his hockey IQ and knowledge of how to develop the most dangerous scoring opportunities.
That might be the signature calling card for Stone as well. He rarely brings any flash or dazzling dangles, rather he employs solid positioning and smarts to make simple plays that produce results.
Furthermore, just because these two make smart plays most of the time, doesn’t mean they don’t get creative, especially when the creative play is the right play. Take this play by Batherson:
He lays a silky dish when two players close in on him, and when the puck comes back to him, he snaps the puck cross-seam, opening up an opportunity on the power play. One pass shows his creativity, the other shows him making the smart play that creates danger in quick fashion.
Another thing that Batherson and Stone share is their consistency and balance of scoring. Both players have the ability to score goals and both have the vision to create great opportunities for teammates and pile up assists. Furthermore, they both bring it every night and show the passion they have for winning whenever they find the scoresheet. If you watch them day in and day out, you will see exactly what I’m talking about.
Mark Stone has had trouble finding consistency in the playoffs, some years he pots over a point per game, while others he seems to disappear off the scoresheet for games at a time.
Batherson has yet to taste what postseason NHL games are like. Playoff hockey is normally when physical play intensifies, as teams load up on big bodies and every player finishes their checks. I think he will have no trouble producing in the playoffs because he has already shown that he isn’t afraid to use his body.
Through the first part of this season, Batherson is out-scoring Stone with 28 points to Stone’s 24. There’s no reason why he can’t and won’t continue his success and show Senators fans why they should be hopeful for the future. Stone may have the better defensive game, as arguably the best defensive winger in the NHL, but Batherson has the tools to shore up that side of the ice as well. He’s been training with Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon in the off-season, who are both stellar all-around players.
Regardless if he develops into the perennial Selke candidate that Stone is, he has the game to be a superstar now and for the next 10 years. If the Senators can keep the Tkachuk, Norris, and Batherson line together through that timeframe, fans should expect big things from this group.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!
Writer and hockey addict from the GTA, covering the Ottawa Senators. Leafs fan from birth, moved to BC to explore the mountains and find the strength to keep cheering. Love talking prospects, potential, and coaching strategies.