Not to be upstaged, the Ottawa Senators had some Drake news of their own for their fans, announcing the signing of restricted free agent forward Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.85 million contract.
The contract which contains an average annual value of $4.975M buys the club two seasons of unrestricted free agency.
The Drake Batherson contract breakdown is as follows:
2021-22 – $2.5M
2022-23 – $3.5M
2023-24 – $5.4M
2024-25 – $5.4M
2025-26 – $6.5M
2026-27 – $6.55M
Posting 17 goals, 34 points in a pandemic shortened 56-game campaign, the 23-year old’s totals translate to a 25-goal, 50-point year over a full 82 games.
Passed over in his first year of Quebec Major Junior and NHL Draft eligibility, Batherson has excelled at every level throughout his young career.
The Senators 2017 fourth-round selection was a member of Canada’s 2018 Gold medal-winning World Junior team where he notched seven goals in seven games.
Dealt by Cape Breton to Blainville-Boisbriand while playing at the World Junior tourney, Batherson compiled 33 points in only 22 games during the 2018 QMJHL playoffs, not only leading his squad, but all players during the postseason.
Among his accomplishments at the American League level; two All Star Games, 2019 All-Rookie Team; 2020 Second All Star Team. Batherson is also the Belleville Senators career points leader with 116 in 103 appearances.
— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) March 8, 2021
On TSN1200 radio Batherson was elated with his new deal, “I’m super-pumped. I’ve had so many family ties to Ottawa as a kid growing up. Just being drafted there was an honour. Now here I am today signing a six-year extension with the team I grew up watching – you know my “old man” (Norm Batherson) and my uncle (Dennis Vial) played for. I’m super-pumped to be back in Ottawa. It’s an exciting day for me and my family.”
Via a Zoom call, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said, “Obviously as an organization, we’re really happy that our fans are going to get to see Drake play here for another six years. We feel that Drake is one of our most talented players. He’s a key component for us on a great team moving forward. We’ve seen a progression in his play. We’ve seen that he can get points. We’re happy that we can get a longer-term with him. And I think both sides wanted this. I think Drake is very happy from our conversation with him today.”
Dorion discussed the six-foot-three, 204-pound forward’s progression over the past season, “I think we saw someone whose game was much more consistent than it was when he first played in the NHL. We saw someone that was able to take charge more offensively. We saw someone who is someone who is stronger. Physical play doesn’t bother him at all. He goes into tough areas to produce points. So we’ve seen obviously that progression. We’ve seen a maturity in his game. We’ve seen his play away from the puck improve. Those are all things we’ve seen a progression in.”
“At the same time, last year he showed in his third year that he really belonged in the NHL, and he was developing on the right path. I think it’s something that I think you have to always do the right way. We have a lot of prospects, but we always want to make sure that when they’re ready to join the Ottawa Senators, they are helping the Ottawa Senators, but they’re also improving at the same time or they’re also contributing to the Ottawa Senators’ success and their own personal success,” explained the GM.
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Batherson who’s 2021 campaign was highlighted by a six-game goal streak, currently fills a first-line role on the right side along with left wing Brady Tkachuk and centre Josh Norris.
With the trade of RW Evgenii Dadonov to Vegas, Batherson will be the focus of the opposition on a nightly basis.
While there’s been plenty of chatter Dorion is seeking to modify the remaining right side beyond Batherson and Connor Brown, nothing is yet to materialize.
“Right now we have Drake and Connor Brown who are very capable top-six wingers. We have Austin Watson also on right wing. I’m not saying Nick Paul could play right wing, but Paul is a versatile player who can play some right wing. Tim Stützle can play right wing. We have some really good prospects down in the minors with Egor Sokolov who had a really great season last year. I think he’s going to impress us. We also have Roby Jarventie who in his last few games in Belleville turned a few heads with his immense talent level. We also signed a few guys who can be challenging for spots. (Kole) Sherwood is a great skater who plays a physical game. Pontus Aberg has shown he can play in the league. It’s about consistency. He can really shoot the puck. We’ve got Scott Sabourin who’s played some games for us in the past. He brings an element of toughness. I think there’ll be some good internal competition on the right wing once camp starts,” explained Dorion.
Dorion also added he’s always looking to bring someone in “providing it’s the right fit.”
Batherson arrives in Ottawa next week and “is excited to get back to playing again.”
With the Senators’ main camp opening in less than three weeks, the focus once again shifts to the club’s top unsigned remaining RFA, Brady Tkachuk.
Dorion stated that ongoing talks are “productive,” during his media availability Friday – lending some hope for Senators’ fans.