Ottawa Senators Prospect Report: Batherson continues to dominate in AHL

This week Rogers Hometown Hockey takes an indepth look at Drake Batherson.

As the Ottawa Senators delve deeper into their rebuild, they continue to bring new prospects to the organization.

This makes it challenging to identify their top prospects in the minor pro ranks, European leagues, junior and college hockey quite.

By next summer, when the Senators hold five selections in the first two rounds of the 2020 draft, their top-end list could change dramatically.

For now, here’s a look at how five of their top prospects are performing as October draws to a close.

This fluid, arbitrary list excludes prospects now with the Senators, such as defenceman Erik Brannstrom and centre Logan Brown.

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Drake Batherson, RW

Age: 21

Drafted: 121st overall in 2017

Team: Belleville Senators (AHL)

GP: 7 | G: 3 | A: 7 | Pts: 10

If there was a single Ottawa prospect not named Brannstrom who had a job waiting for him at the NHL level this fall it was Batherson. Batherson, 21, again trained with NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon in Halifax in the off-season and put on nine pounds while focusing on nutrition and weight training.

Reporting to camp at six-foot-three, 209 pounds, did Batherson get too big, too fast? He seemed a step slower at camp and was sent down to AHL Belleville after two listless NHL games (no points and +/- minus-four) to start the season. Point-less in his first AHL game, he scored five in Game 2 and hasn’t looked back.

After scoring once and adding an assist in a 4-3 win over Providence Sunday, Batherson has 10 points in seven games to lead the B-Sens. He was dominant at the AHL-level last season – 62 points in 59 games – and is bound to be recalled by Ottawa, perhaps sooner rather than later. Batherson did play 20 NHL games for the Senators last season, producing nine points.

Vitaly Abramov, RW

Age: 21

Drafted: 65th overall in 2016.

Team: Belleville Senators (AHL)

GP:5 | G: 1 | A: 2 | Pts: 3

If Abramov hadn’t suffered a concussion during the pre-season, he probably would have started the season in Ottawa. As it was, the 21-year-old from Chelyabinsk, Russia was a quick recall on Oct. 7, and scored his first NHL goal against the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Oct. 10. With the acquisition of Vladislav Namestnikov, Abramov was sent back down to Belleville and is settling in.

On Sunday, he was named the first star of the game in Belleville’s win over Providence (one goal, one assist). Ottawa’s head coach D.J. Smith likes what he sees in Abramov.

"He scored in every game I watched him play in the rookie games and practices," Smith said during camp. "He just works, works, works. And he’s got speed." A third-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Abramov was acquired by Ottawa at the trade deadline as part of the deal for Matt Duchene.

Abramov is familiar with the National Capital Region, having played for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL. In 2016-17, Abramov scored 46 goals, 55 assists for 104 points with Gatineau.

Lassi Thomson, D

Age: 19

Drafted: 19th overall in 2019.

Team: Ilves Tampere, (Liiga, Finland)

GP: 14 | G: 3 | A: 3 | Pts: 6

The Senators went off the board to select Thomson 19th overall last June for a couple of reasons. One: they had a need for a right-shot defenceman after losing Erik Karlsson via trade; two: they liked Thomson’s offensive upside.

At six-feet, 190-pounds, Thomson is not overly large but is a fluid skater with lateral ability and a big shot that he is not afraid to use.

After a strong 2018-19 season with the WHL Kelowna Rockets (17 goals, 41 points in 63 games), Thomson, 19, returned to Finland this fall and has six points in 14 games with Ilves of Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. Thomson has recorded 54 shots on goal in those 14 games.

Following a strong start, Thomson was seeing his ice time reduced, but after a coaching change his minutes increased and he is averaging above 15 minutes per game. However, he was injured in a game against Lukko on Oct. 19 and hasn’t played since. It can’t be too serious because Thomson was named this week to Finland’s U-20 team for the Four Nations Tournament in Helsinki Nov. 8-10.

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Josh Norris, C

Age: 20.

Drafted: 19th overall in 2017.

Team: Belleville Senators (AHL)

GP: 8 | G: 2 | A: 5 | Pts: 7

One of the key pieces in the Karlsson trade was this 20-year-old centre who had been San Jose’s 19th overall draft pick in 2017. Norris was on a roll at the University of Michigan, with 19 points in 17 games before he got injured playing for USA at last year’s world junior tournament. He required shoulder shoulder in January and missed the rest of the season.

After a slow start in Belleville this fall – zero points over his first four games – Norris has acclimated with seven points in his last four games. On Oct. 19 versus Providence, Norris broke out with his first pro goal and added two assists.

B-Sens head coach Troy Mann said he was his top forward that night. Mann likes Norris’ game, he’s a small player with a sneaky mean streak, but needs time to work on his defensive play. He is pals with USA teammate Brady Tkachuk, which seems to be a key point of entry into the Senators dressing room.

Mads Sogaard, G

Age: 18

Drafted: 37th overall in 2019

Team: Medicine Hat (WHL)

W: 5 | L: 4 | SO: 1 | GAA: 2.54 | SV%: .914

After being next to unbeatable to start the season, Sogaard, 18, has cooled off somewhat but still has good numbers, with a goals-against well under three per game.

The Denmark native, a towering, six-foot-seven presence in the crease, was drafted in 2019’s second round by the Senators, 37th overall, after Sogaard’s strong season with Medicine Hat in 2018-19, winning 19 games and posting a .921 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average.

On Friday, Sogaard took the loss in a 4-2 game against Edmonton, while stopping 35 of 39 Oil Kings shots. In his previous outing, Oct. 20, Sogaard was pulled with about nine minutes left in the third period after Calgary put six past him on 42 shots. The Tigers rookie goalie, Garin Bjorklund, recorded a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday against Lethbridge as Sogaard backed him up.


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