Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Drake Batherson

The winger set career highs in goals and points

Ottawa Senators Report Cards: Drake Batherson
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen / Unsplash

Staff Grade: B+, Reader Grade: B+

After years of promise, Drake Batherson may have finally grown into the player the Sens had hoped he would be. At still just 26 years of age, Batherson set new career highs in goals (28) and points (66) this past season. Also, crucially, he played in 82 games for the second season in a row, showing that whatever injury issues had plagued him earlier in his career don’t seem to be affecting him anymore. It’s likely that he’s now fully recovered, and this should be the Batherson we expect to see for the next few years of him in his prime.

Batherson’s season was, on the whole, consistent with what we've come to know of him as a player. He profiles as a second-line winger, offensively capable but not a driver of play himself. Micah McCurdy’s HockeyViz showed him as almost exactly at league-average for expected goals at 5v5, while Natural Stat Trick put him at 49.05%, 12th among players on the team with 20+ games played. His slightly-above-average offence contribution was counteracted by his more-below-average defence, as shown in the defensive HockeyViz figure below:

To summarize: the Sens give up a bit more than they get when Batherson is on the ice.

Nobody expected Batherson to be a Selke nominee. We further see that Batherson isn’t the play driver from his with-and-without stats with his most-common linemates. He played the most 5v5 minutes with Brady Tkachuk (527 min), Tim Stützle (412), and Shane Pinto (326) among forwards, and all three got 50+% of the 5v5 expected goals when paired with him. However, his percentages dropped a couple points without them, while they all saw their numbers stay the same or rise without Batherson. The numbers show Batherson as a great complementary player but he has never profiled as someone who can carry a line on his own. Thankfully, with guys like Stützle and Tkachuk in the lineup, he doesn’t have to be the star.

Where we really saw him shine this year was on the powerplay (especially with the odd decision to put Josh Norris on his off-side for a chunk of the year). What's clear in the below illustration is that (1) Batherson did contribute to a substantial increase in chance generation on the power play vs. the league average and (2) that offensive boost was mostly through the low right-side slot where he and Brady Tkachuk would play most of their minutes.

Compared to last season, he had fewer powerplay points (29 last year vs. 22 this year) and goals (14 vs. 7). However, let’s remember though that the Sens dropped from 72 to 51 powerplay goals in that span, so he actually got a point on 43% of the team’s powerplay goals – up from 40% the year before.

Batherson is a creative passer who particularly benefits from the additional time that being on the power play affords him. When he has the time to go through his options, Batherson can cut defenses a part. A lot of the team's good moments with the man advantage featured him in some way.

Finally, it must also be noted in any comprehensive recap of Batherson's season that although there were allegedly eight players involved in the 2018 World Juniors sexual assault and ensuing coverup, only five were ordered to surrender to police and Batherson was not among them. As with all other members of that team, he remains banned from participating in any international competition pending Hockey Canada finalizing its investigation into the matter.

Batherson getting the same grade from writers and readers reflects that most share a similar evaluation: his offensive contributions are valuable, but he needs linemates to do a lot of the hard work. He’s the kind of player your offensive stars want, a guy that will pass them the puck in dangerous areas and will take quality shots from the passes he gets. He’s the kind of guy a powerplay needs, an offensive threat to complement the superstars.  While the Sens bet on several young players early by handing them $8+-million deals, Batherson still has three years left at a perfectly reasonable $4.975M. If he can contribute as he did this past season, and that seems very likely given what we know of him, then he he will be a valuable contributor on this team for years to come.

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team