It’s time for another prospect update, with this week’s stars all coming from the NHL and AHL rosters. It was a quiet week outside of the pro leagues, with none of the college or European players having much to show for in the start of the season. But for the Sens and B-Sens, the young guys are making themselves known with some incredible performances from the past week.
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Rudolfs Balcers, Drake Batherson & Filip Chlapik
I group this trio together because they were deployed as Belleville’s top line against Manitoba this weekend, and did they ever decimate. They combined for thirteen points in the back-to-back games, being responsible for Belleville’s only goal in Friday’s 2-1 loss, and five of six goals in Saturday’s 6-2 win. Batherson and Chlapik each picked up four points that game, with Balcers scoring two goals.
The clips below are meant to highlight Batherson, although check out the excellent passing between the trio. It’s still early, although these guys might be developing some chemistry.
2 Goals— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) October 15, 2018
⭐️ 1st Star
Drake Batherson had himself a Saturday night. Welcome to the AHL! pic.twitter.com/1UQ72kPQe9
Overall, it feels good to see new coach Troy Mann trusting the young players to do what they do best. It was severely lacking last season, and with the amount of skilled players added to the roster, it opens a window for Belleville to do some serious competing.
It’s hard to believe Lajoie scored only a single goal in the AHL last year — third pair minutes with Murray and Burgdoerfer will do that to someone. Now he has four goals in his first six NHL games, and although it’s unlikely his 22% shooting percentage will sustain, he’s been playing a fantastic all-around game. His 18 shots on goal are four more than second place on Ottawa, while his 27 attempts rank second.
While his defensive game could still use some adjusting (his 75.2 shot attempts against per 60 minutes is one of Ottawa’s highest), his offensive explosion has been the storyline of the season so far for Ottawa. He’s also done this without having a steady partner, playing evenly with DeMelo and Jaros following Ceci’s injury.
Nothing gets in Brady Tkachuk’s way, as he’s shown fans this season. He may not be flashy, but when he gets within three feet of the net... watch out. Picking up six points in his first four NHL games, his hard work is paying off.
His personality oozes on and off the ice, which seems to have made him really popular amongst his peers. Like Lajoie, it’ll be really unlikely he’ll continue to score on more than one in every five of his shots. But he’s driving play as well, ranking second on the team in shots on goal. His 53.54% Corsi % also makes him one of the few positive players on the team, although that could very well be from just playing on a line with Mark Stone. Either way, Tkachuk is here to stay, and he’s making the most of it.
- A couple key prospects have been hit with the injury bug. First is Alex Formenton, who’s out with a concussion. His timeline is unknown, although it may not bode well for his chances of sticking in the NHL if he’ll need to get his footing back. The AHL is unfortunately not an option due to the NHL-CHL transfer agreement, but the Sens still have the option to play him for up to five more games before they burn a year off his entry-level contract.
- The second injury is to Logan Brown. There isn’t a lot of clarity or details on a timetable, although it’ll likely take around two weeks for him to get back to action. Considering he’s dealt with a handful of injuries already in his short career, patience will be needed before he eventually gets his shot in the NHL.
- Last one is for 2018 7th rounder Luke Loheit, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis this past week. This is the same sickness that Colin White and Max Lajoie had in their draft year, and Curtis Lazar had to deal with in 2016. His timeline for return is unknown.
- A level below in the ECHL, Aaron Luchuk found himself as a healthy scratch (!!) in both of Brampton’s games this weekend. Maybe he’s injured? Maybe the coaches have something against his size? Maybe he didn’t have a good training camp? It’s all a mystery.
- A handful of players made their NCAA debuts this week: Jakov Novak, Johnny Gruden, Angus Crookshank, Jonny Tychonick and Jacob Bernard-Docker. Tychonick was scratched for North Dakota’s first game after a couple defensive mishaps in an exhibition game, although made it into game two.
- Colin White and Christian Jaros were two more rookies making their impact felt in the NHL. White picked up his first goal of the season, while Jaros scored his first NHL point with an assist.