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All statistics courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com
As the Ottawa Senators approach the beginning of the 2023/2024 season, there are a few players who I believe are poised to break out. I have already discussed some bounce-back candidates, Batherson being one of them, and I believe he can return to all-star form. If Batherson can stay healthy this year, I think he will get back to the level he was at before his injury in the 2021/2022 season. As I discussed previously, I would love to see Batherson playing with Stutzle and Tkachuk. If that happens, I don’t believe that a point-per-game season is out of the question.
Drake Batherson’s 2021/2022 Season Reviewed
Drake Batherson’s best season of his career came in 2021/2022. At the beginning of the season, Batherson was playing at an elite level and was leading the team in points. This is before he took a cheap shot from Aaron Dell of the Buffalo Sabres.
On this play, Batherson sustained a high ankle sprain that would derail the rest of his season. Despite being selected as the Ottawa Senators representative for the All-Star game, Batherson would, unfortunately, have to miss the weekend due to his new injury. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that pre-injury, Drake Batherson was not only the team’s best forward, but also their best player in the 2021/2022 season.
Leading up to his injury, Drake Batherson had scored 34 points in 31 games making him the lone Senator to be scoring above a point-per-game pace. He would go on to finish the season with 44 points in 46 games. Of those players who had at least 500 minutes played for the Senators in the 2021/2022 season, Batherson finished 3rd in Corsi for percentage (54.89%), 3rd in expected goals for percentage (56.74%), 2nd in on-ice shooting percentage (12.45%), 4th in creating high danger chances for/against (58.49%), and 1st for goals for percentage (64.65%).
You may be wondering what all of these stats mean. In short, it informs us that Batherson was among the best at creating offensive opportunities for the Ottawa Senators. On average, Batherson was able to create more scoring chances than his opponents, and finish them at an elite level. The goals for percentage tells us that Batherson led the team in the ratio of goals being scored for Ottawa (64) versus against Ottawa (35).
Needless to say, Batherson’s injury was incredibly disappointing for both himself and the Ottawa Senators. Without Aaron Dell losing his cool and making an inexcusable play, who knows what Batherson could have done in the 2021/2022 season.
Batherson’s 2022/2023 Season
Coming into this season the excitement around the Sens was higher than it had been in many years. The Senators had established a new top 6 that fans hoped would be among the very best in the NHL. Fast forward to the Josh Norris injury, and suddenly the second line was full of players who had never lined up with each other. There’s no sugarcoating that the second line of DeBrincat, Pinto, and Batherson just didn’t work, even though it had enough talent.
The second line was unable to score at 5v5 throughout the season. They finished with only 15 goals for and 27 goals against at even strength, even though they had an expected goals for percentage of 51.14%. All of the advanced metrics looked solid for the line, but the results did not follow.
When factoring in all situations on the ice (even strength, power play, penalty kill, etc) and looking at Drake Batherson’s advanced statistics individually, he had a strong season. Batherson finished the season with a Corsi percentage of 60.12% (2nd on team), an expected goals-for percentage of 63.47% (2nd on team), a high danger chances for/against percentage of 61.48% (2nd on team), and a shooting percentage of 9.4% (8th on team).
When looking at the uncharacteristically low producing 5v5 results from Batherson, Pinto, and DeBrincat, there is good reason to think that Batherson should take another step forward next year. According to the NaturalStatTricks model, as an individual player Batherson was expected to score a total of 34 goals this season. Add in the fact that his linemates struggled to score at 5v5 as well, there’s reason to believe his assists numbers (40) should climb as well.
Another piece that is important to remember is that Batherson said he was dealing with lingering pain from his high ankle sprain suffered in 2021/2022. Batherson discussed how his ankle was finally feeling 100% after spending most of the season with a lot of tightness. He didn’t want to make any excuses, but he did mention how much better he felt after just over a year of recovery.
What Is Drake Batherson Capable Of
I have extremely high hopes for Batherson this upcoming season. When looking at his underlying numbers as well as his production in the 2021/2022 year, I believe he is due for a big season. I think a lot of his results will be dependent on where he slots in the lineup. I would like to see him on the top line with Tkachuk and Stutzle, but I also think he would find plenty of success on the second line.
If he can remain healthy and plays on the first power play unit, I could see Batherson scoring right around a point per game. Of course, if he is on the second line this would be more difficult, but I suspect he will play on the first line. For an official prediction, I will say that over an 82-game pace, Batherson will score 29 goals, and 46 assists for 75 points. This may seem a little ambitious, but I believe in Drake Batherson as a player.
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