Hockey season is winding down for a bunch of leagues, as some prospects are gearing up for the playoffs, with others looking from the outside in. We’ll go through all of that and more in this week’s Sens prospect update.
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The Belleville Senators continued to roll this week, as they now find themselves in a playoff spot with the regular season approaching the home stretch. You can read Spencer’s full recap of the week here — what a run it’s been.
If I haven’t made this clear enough in these updates yet: Drake Batherson is an elite prospect. He’s the best player we’ve seen on the Sens’ AHL team since Mike Hoffman in 2013-14, and even then Hoffman was already in his fourth season of professional hockey. Batherson is a rookie, and unless the voters somehow screw it up, he’ll almost certainly be named the AHL’s rookie of the year.
His dominance was subdued a bit this week against the Cleveland Monsters, who managed to hold Belleville to only one goal in two games (on which Batherson had an assist). On the other hand, their most recent game against the Toronto Marlies was a trip, with Batherson scoring two goals (one of which was an empty-netter) and assisting on another in the back half of the third period to lift the B-Sens from down 2-3 to up 5-3. His 21st goal is the most in a single season in the short history of the Belleville Sens.
2G, 1A for Drake Batherson— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 11, 2019
1G, 2A for Nick Paul
2A for Logan Brown
Pretty good matinee showing from Belleville's top line pic.twitter.com/VdKzStmADA
Although it’s been the rookies Brown and Batherson taking the spotlight in Belleville, their linemate Nick Paul can’t be forgotten. While it may be a bit frustrating that he hasn’t exactly gotten a fair shake in the NHL, the AHL may be the best place to keep him situated for now, even if it’s just to stay clear of Ottawa’s losing environment. Paul was also instrumental this week, with two goals and two assists in three games.
For those counting, that’s 31 points in 30 games this season, more than double his rate in 2017-18. He’s still 23 years old, which is around the age most forwards start their prime years, so hopefully we can see him start to translate these results to the NHL when the time is right for a call-up. When that time is is still up for debate.
Drake Batherson is up to 52 points in 44GP after picking up assist #33 on this snipe by Nick Paul.— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 8, 2019
Not to be outshone, Paul has made it on the scoresheet in 7 straight, good for 28 points (13-15-28) in 28GP. pic.twitter.com/3TgWz7QWYe
- Let’s do a bit of a playoff rundown, shall we? Starting with the CHL, their seasons end later this week. Alex Formenton and the London Knights have clinched the OHL’s Western Conference. Parker Kelly has also clinched the WHL’s Eastern Conference with the Prince Alber Raiders, while the Medicine Hat Tigers with Jordan Hollett are looking to maintain their position in the first of two wild card spots. Kevin Mandolese and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have also clinched a middle spot in the QMJHL.
- Over in Europe, Markus Nurmi is in with TPS (Liiga), and Jonathan Davidsson is in with Djurgårdens, although the latter has been struggling with concussions recently, missing five games in a row and then stepping off mid-game yesterday in his first game back. Filip Ahl, meanwhile, narrowly avoided having to play to avoid relegation with Tingsryds.
- In the BCHL, Luke Loheit didn’t hit the scoresheet in five games as the Penticton Vees lost in the first round. He’ll be playing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season.
- NCAA playoffs are already underway. Jakov Novak is in with Bentley, receiving a bye in the first round. Angus Crookshank (New Hampshire), Johnny Gruden (Miami) and the two North Dakota defencemen (Tychonick and Bernard-Docker) will also be playing playoff hockey. Todd Burgess lost with RPI in the first round.
- Joel Daccord has made the playoffs with Arizona State... we think? Because ASU is not in any division, the NCAA will have to figure out how to fit them into the playoff picture. This is the first time in their short existence that they’ve been close to good enough to be considered for post-season hockey.
- The last college player is Miles Gendron, who although didn’t make the playoffs with UConn, signed an AHL contract with the Belleville Senators earlier today. The deal is for the 2019-20 season, although he also signed to play with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast for the remainder of the season.
- The more anticipated signing, however, was the newly acquired Max Veronneau. You can read Ary’s full introduction of him here, as it looks like he’ll be seeing NHL action as soon as tomorrow. He was skating with the NHL roster this morning.
- Christian Jaros was also on the ice for practice today. He hasn’t played since March 2nd.
- Friend of the blog Henry Brown, otherwise know as @SensProspects, covered a ton of prospects in his guest piece for the Sens. I highly recommend checking it out — it can’t be understated how much his work has helped make these updates as comprehensive as possible.