It was a relatively quiet week for Sens prospects, with many player’s teams taking a break for the holiday season. The 2018 World Junior Championships are also right around the corner, with a handful of prospects earning the chance to represent their country in the world’s top junior tournament.
The Belleville Senators were back in action, finishing the week with a 1-2-0 record. Two of those games were played against the Binghamton Devils, the former host city to Ottawa’s AHL franchise. They’re the only team below Belleville in the North Division, so coming away from that series with a -3 goal differential isn’t the best sign for the team’s outlook.
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Belleville’s leading goal scorer picked up three more this week, one in each game, bringing his total of twelve to nearly double second place. Also tied for the team lead in shots, Gagné has done a complete 180 from where he was last season, when he was struggling to pick up anything on the scoresheet.
Still only 21 years old, there’s no signs pointing to Gagné’s turnaround being a fluke. The Sens moved up to draft the 6’5” forward at the 2015 draft, and although there was some good talent left on the board, it appears the decision is beginning to pay off.
Gabriel Gagné with goals in back-to-back games— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 16, 2017
Gagné has 5 Points (3G, 2A) in his last 6GP, and leads Belleville with 11 Goals. pic.twitter.com/E6BITv9UPi
Drake Batherson & Alex Formenton
Although the two forwards were out of action this week in the CHL, they were busy at the tryout camp for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, both fighting for roster spots as wingers on the fringe. Both survived the multiple rounds of cuts, and will represent Canada at the 2018 World Juniors!
It didn’t come without a bit of controversy, as top prospects Nick Suzuki (VGK) and Cody Glass (VGK) were cut ahead of them. Formenton in particular was a bit of an unpopular pick, considering he only scored 0.5 points per game last season, and just turned 18 a few months ago. He’ll be expected to play on Team Canada’s penalty kill, as well as unleashing his speed against his opponents.
Early line combos have Batherson on the third line next to Jonah Gadjovich (VAN) and Michael McLeod (NJD), with Formenton on the fourth line with Maxime Comtois (ANA) and Brett Howden (TBL). You can find Batherson’s reaction interview here, and one of Alex Formenton’s two exhibition goals below.
Alex Formenton's SHG in Canada's 4-3 exhibition loss today— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 15, 2017
Formenton and Drake Batherson both made it through the first round of cuts. pic.twitter.com/FEr943T9yx
- More Batherson: TSN had a great feature on him this week. His father Norm, who used to play for Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in 1993-94, also had a reaction interview to seeing his son make Team Canada.
- From the 2017 draft, Formenton (47th overall) and Batherson (121st overall) made it to the World Juniors. Ottawa’s 1st round pick Shane Bowers, who was traded to Colorado as part of the Matt Duchene deal, wasn’t even invited to Canada’s tryout camp.
- They won’t be the lone Sens prospects at the World Juniors, as Logan Brown will represent Team USA as their top line centre, and Markus Nurmi will also be a part of Finland’s forward corps. Brown’s been playing on a line with Kailer Yamamoto (EDM) and Brady Tkachuk (2018).
- All hell broke loose in Belleville’s first matchup with Binghamton, with the Senators being dished out 70 total penalty minutes. Misconducts were handed to all of Chlapik, Jaros, Gagné, Harpur and White — all young prospects that you wouldn’t expect considering the amount of veteran grinders throughout Belleville’s lineup. Jaros also had his first career AHL fight.
- More standouts from Belleville: Filip Chlapik had two goals and Colin White had two assists as well as the only shootout goal in the B-Sens’ win.
- A little digression on Belleville: coach Kurt Kleinendorst’s management of the lineup has reached the point of being fireable. In what’s supposed to be a development league, we’ve seen stunts pulled such as playing Francis Perron on the 4th line, and Colin White deployed in the bottom six next to veteran anchors Mike Blunden and Chris Kelly. This is the type of mismanagement that ruins a prospect, and with the B-Sens sitting in the league’s basement yet again (11-14-3, 5th last), it’s time to see an overhaul of management, including both Kleinendorst and Randy Lee.
- And because we need to end this on a positive note, Thomas Chabot has managed to keep himself on Ottawa’s roster for the last week, including the NHL Centennial Classic. Ben Harpur was recalled yesterday, so we’ll see whether Chabot’s definitively here to stay. But judging by his play, he’s 100% earned it.