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Batherson responds to bump in the road by re-establishing himself as top prospect

Drake Batherson, of IIHF World Junior and Valley Wildcats fame, will play his first NHL game on the Ottawa Senators’ starting lineup Nov. 15.
Nova Scotia's Drake Batherson - Hockey Canada

Good times are here again for Drake Batherson.

With an assist in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the Utica Comets, he has 13 goals and 19 assists in his past 21 games, re-establishing himself as one of the best and brightest prospects in the AHL.

Batherson, however, took some lumps and learned some hard lessons upon returning to the buses and diesel fumes of the AHL in late December. After his decent showing in his first-call up to Ottawa – three goals and six assists in 19 games – he was cutting corners.

“It was difficult, a culture change, the systems are different and I sort of forgot everything,” said Batherson, who endured a nine-game pointless drought. “It took 10-12 games to get back.”

Belleville coach Troy Mann says Batherson adopted some old “junior” habits.

As is the case with so many talented young forwards, the message was about showcasing – through words and video – that offence comes from defence.

Mann has shown no hesitation to staple his top line of Batherson, Nick Paul and Logan Brown to the bench for extended periods when they lose sight of the complete game.

“We had a couple of video sessions and (Batherson) played better without the puck the next night and got two points,” said Mann. “You see it lots of times, skilled guys after they have an extended time in the NHL. I don’t think mentally they come in and think it’s going to be easy, but it’s just a different atmosphere, a different league.”

By Ken Warren

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