The start to Drake Batherson’s professional career likely couldn’t have been drawn up any better.
Through 12 games, the New Minas, N.S., native leads the AHL in points by a rookie with 13. He also leads the Senators in points while his five goals rank tied for first and his eight assists lead the team.
He also tied a franchise record with points in a game when he had four on Oct. 13 against Manitoba.
“The coaches have given me a lot of opportunities to succeed by playing a lot of minutes and being in the top six and getting the chance to play with some great players,” Batherson said. “They have me out there on the power play too and I’ve taken a lot of confidence from that.”
The 20-year-old has been electric on the power play, creating endless opportunities for his teammates and it’s shown by his five power play assists so far in 2018-19.
“The kid wants to be a hockey player and he’s got a lot of good things going for him,” Senators head coach Troy Mann said. “He has great speed, good puck instincts, his skillset and nose to get to the net and find those areas that need to be done is all there.”
Batherson has played on Belleville’s top line since opening night on the right wing with Rudolfs Balcers playing on the left. His center has been either Nick Paul or Filip Chlapik, depending on injuries and call-ups.
The hot start by Batherson has many already calling his name to be recalled by Ottawa but Batherson remains focused on being the best player he can be in Belleville.
“I think there’s always pressure on myself to do better and I put a lot of pressure on myself too but over the years I’ve built up enough strength in myself to keep it cool and that’s what I’ve been doing this year to not get too high or too low,” Batherson said.
While the skillset is there, as are the hockey smarts, Mann says one of the goals for Batherson in Belleville is to get him stronger so that when he eventually makes the leap to Ottawa, he’s physically ready to battle with the NHL’s best.
“We’re trying to work on his strength but also his defensive awareness in terms of his positioning, stick location and tracking because those types of things are ultimately going to be the key to him having a long career at that level.”
And if Batherson continues to tally points with the regularity he has in his first dozen professional games, that call will be coming soon.