At the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, the Sens added two speedy, skilled forwards from the CHL in Alex Formenton and Drake Batherson to help bolster the organization's prospect depth up front. Now the pair is looking to make a good impression during their first NHL training camp.
The duo recently donned Senators jerseys for the first time at the Rookie Tournament in Toronto where Ottawa's prospects ended the weekend with a pair of impressive wins, first dispatching the Montreal Canadiens 8-2 in their opening game before rallying back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period to beat the host Maple Leafs 4-3 in a shootout.
"I just tried to keep things simple and minimize the turnovers," said Batherson recounting his Rookie Tournament debut. "Some of the other guys on the team were playing in their third or fourth tournament so I was always trying to pick up little things from them and see if I could implement it into my game."
With solid showings in both contests, Formenton and Batherson left a positive impression with the Sens' coaches and management who made the trip down the 401 to watch the team's prospects in action and ultimately earned an invite to the team's training camp in the process.
"I thought Alex was one of our most impressive forwards in Toronto," said assistant general manager Randy Lee. "With Drake, we gave him a lot more opportunity in the tournament as his play got better and I thought they both performed very well."
Now the pair are among the youngest players at the Sens' main camp (along with undrafted centre Parker Kelly) and are looking to parlay their success last weekend into an extended stay with the NHL club.
"I think I just have to focus on the little things that I was able to do well during the Rookie Tournament," said Formenton. "My speed is one of my assets so I'd like to continue to utilize that part of my game during this training camp."
After taking care of the physical testing and some team meetings on Day #1, the on-ice portion of training camp began Friday morning at the Bell Sensplex with a practice, a scrimmage and some conditioning sessions.
If Formenton and Batherson were anxious about the step up in competition during their first NHL training camp, it wasn't indicative by their play on the ice.
"I know some prospects tend to get nervous the first time they are on the ice with NHL players," Lee explained. "They may have been nervous inside but they definitely didn't show it on the ice."
Neither player looked out of place on Friday and each showed flashes of their speed and skill over the course of the session despite being pitted against NHL regulars.
With every player in camp focused on earning a full-time roster spot with the big club, Formenton and Batherson are aware that that process begins with getting into some preseason action first.
"Hopefully they can earn some games with us in the preseason," Randy Lee continued. "We want them to be immersed in a professional routine so they can see what goes into be a full-time NHL player."
"Exposure to that type of stuff can only help a young player's development."
Both prospects remain focused on a future in the NHL but in the meantime the two teenagers are still hoping to soak up the entire experience that an NHL training camp can offer.
"It's a dream come true to be at my first professional training camp in the NHL," said Batherson between sessions on Friday. "It's pretty cool to be out on the ice with players that I've been watching since I was a kid and it'd be awesome to be able to play in one of the preseason games alongside them."
The Sens are set to kick off their preseason on Monday at Canadian Tire Centre with the first half of a home-and-home series against the Maple Leafs. Tickets for that game are available here.