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31 in 31

Top prospects for Ottawa Senators

Brannstrom, Batherson each expected to make immediate mark in NHL

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Ottawa Senators, according to NHL.com.

 

[Senators 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

1. Erik Brannstrom, D

How acquired: Trade from Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 25, 2019

Last season: Ottawa (NHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0; Chicago (AHL): 41 GP, 7-21-28; Belleville (AHL): 9 GP, 0-4-4

Brannstrom was the key return for Ottawa in the trade that sent veteran forward Mark Stone to Vegas. He's not the biggest defenseman (5-foot-10, 173 pounds), but the 19-year-old's smooth skating and puck-moving skills made him a must-have.

"The Mark Stone deal was about getting the best quality prospect out there," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. "And we felt as a group that the best defenseman outside the NHL right now was Erik Brannstrom."

The Senators signed free agent Ron Hainsey and acquired Nikita Zaitsev in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1 to augment their defensemen, but Brannstrom will be given every opportunity to earn a spot in training camp and might end up in Ottawa's top four.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Ottawa Senators 2019-20 season preview

 

2. Drake Batherson, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 121 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Ottawa (NHL): 20 GP, 3-6-9; Belleville (AHL): 59 GP, 22-40-62

Batherson is on the fast track to the NHL thanks to continuous improvement. The 21-year-old made the American Hockey League All-Rookie team and did not look out of place in the NHL. He's known for his quick release and heavy shot and moves well for his size (6-3, 187).

"We feel like he's going to be a top-line player one day in the NHL," Dorion said.

A spot as a second line wing is not out of the question if Batherson performs well in training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: DET@OTT: Batherson scores in NHL debut

 

3. Logan Brown, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 11 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Ottawa (NHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0; Belleville (OHL): 56 GP; 14-28-42

Brown (6-6, 220) skates well for a player his size. Big, mobile centers are a coveted and scarce commodity in the NHL, and his continued development has been monitored closely by Ottawa.

The 21-year-old, who missed six weeks with a lower-body injury sustained during an October practice, has been spending the offseason working on his explosiveness, beginning with an improved first step.

Dorion said Brown, the son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Brown, has a legitimate chance to make the Senators roster if he becomes more consistent.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Alex Formenton, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 47 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Ottawa (NHL): 9 GP, 1-0-1; London (OHL): 31 GP, 13-21-34

Formenton received a nine-game audition with Ottawa out of training camp last season before the decision was made to give him more seasoning with his junior team, London of the Ontario Hockey League, where coach Dale Hunter could help prepare him for what the Senators hope is a lengthy NHL career. The 19-year-old put up good numbers last season but missed 21 games with a leg injury.

An elite skater with a quick step and great edges, Formenton (6- 2, 165) has his sights set high.

"I want to make this team for the full year," he said during development camp in June.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: OTT@ARI: Formenton redirects shot for first goal

 

5. Lassi Thomson, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 19 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: Kelowna (WHL): 63 GP; 17-24-41

Thomson (6-0, 190) will play for Ilves in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. The 18-year-old had a strong season in the Western Hockey League but said he feels a return home will accelerate his path to the NHL.

"I think it's better for me to play against men in order to get ready to play in the NHL because you'll be playing against men in the NHL," Thomson said during the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan, in July. "I think I'll have a chance to play in the NHL earlier by going (to Finland) and playing against men."

Dorion said he's impressed by Thomson's hockey sense and his vision. If his learning curve continues, a spot with the Senators in 2020-21 could be possible.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: Senators draft D Lassi Thomson No. 19

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