All eyes were on Drake Batherson heading into the 2019-20 season in Ottawa. It looked like Batherson proved everything he could in the AHL last season after earning a spot on the AHL all-rookie team with 62 points, and the Senators were the perfect (bad) team to give him an opportunity.
But after just two games, the Senators sent Batherson back to Belleville after an undisclosed injury in training camp took a bit of a toll on his game. Batherson has the talent to warrant a full-season run in the NHL, but there’s no rush to bring up a top prospect on a team that’s focused more on the long-term future than chasing playoff dreams this season.
As expected, Batherson has taken the opportunity in stride, sitting fifth in AHL scoring with 22 points through 19 games. Batherson has instantly clicked with Vitali Abramov and Josh Norris, giving Sens fans a glimpse of what could be a promising future for the club in the next few years. But Batherson has played a cut above the rest, with the 21-year-old posting three- and four-point nights in November, heading into the final weekend of the month with 12 points. Consistency has been a bit of an issue, but the Baby Sens are a midpack team in the strong North Division – he can’t do everything himself.
To continue on with our look at the top AHLers in 2019-20, here are nine other players that made big waves in November:
Yakov Trenin, C, 22 (Milwaukee)
The Admirals were dynamite in November, winning 11 of 12 games to shoot to first overall in the AHL standings. Trenin had points in nine of the 12 games, including a pair of three-point nights to boost his presence in the scoring race with 21 points in 16 games. Trenin did much of the heavy lifting on his line with Colin Blackwell and Eeli Tolvanen, and with Daniel Carr up with Nashville for a few games, it allowed Trenin to flourish. His 1.31 points-per-game average is only bested by Utica’s Reid Boucher among forwards with at least 10 games played this season. Could an NHL promotion soon follow?
Chris Terry, LW, 30 (Grand Rapids)
It’s never a surprise to see Terry’s name near the top of the AHL scoring race, having led the league with 71 points two years ago and consistently breaking the 60-point barrier. Terry hasn’t dressed in an NHL game since a 14-game run with Montreal in 2016-17, but he seems comfortable in his veteran role with the Griffins as evidenced by his 25 points in the opening 21 games – good to tie Chicago’s Lucas Elvenes for first in scoring. Grand Rapids has some extra intrigue this year due to having top prospects Filip Zadina, Mortiz Seider, Michael Rasmussen and Joe Veleno in the fray, so having a top-tier AHLer in the lineup has helped them adapt to the pro game. Don’t be surprised if Terry cracks 70 points again.
Mikhail Berdin, G, 21 (Manitoba)
With Eric Comrie out of the picture, Berdin has given it everything he has in the Moose net. Named CCM/AHL Player of the Week at the midway point in November, Berdin has played in 19 of Manitoba’s 21 games after playing in just 23 a year ago, leading the league with 10 wins on an otherwise mid-pack team. The 21-year-old netminder has proven himself capable of stealing games with a couple of 40-plus save performances, most notably a 41-save shutout on Nov. 8 against Rockford. There’s no rush to bring Berdin up to the NHL with Connor Hellebuyck manning the net in Winnipeg, but he’ll at least be able to contend for the AHL’s top goaltender award.
Jansen Harkins, C, 22 (Manitoba)
What a month it was for Harkins. It started with assists on all five goals in a 5-3 win over Grand Rapids at the start of November and it concluded with points in 12 of 13 games, racking up 21 points in that span. A second-round pick by Winnipeg in 2015 (47th overall), Harkins struggled to produce over the past two AHL seasons but with 24 points in 21 games, he should quickly blast past his previous best of 31 points last year. Harkins has displayed his offensive talents this year, but he still needs to refine his defensive play to warrant a shot with the Jets.
Lane Pederson, C, 22 (Tuscon)
Tuscon has had no shortage of offensive producers this season, with 10 players – including defenseman Kyle Capobianco, who saw some action with Arizona – recording at least 10 points thus far. Pederson has been the most impressive, leading the team in goals with 11 after leading the Roadrunners in goals (23) and points (47) last season. The chemistry with Michael Bunting has resumed, and Brayden Burke has played a vital role in the team’s scoring success so far, too. Pederson has the potential to bring some secondary scoring to the Coyotes’ lineup one day, but Tuscon probably would like to hold on to him for a bit longer.
Derrick Pouliot, D, 25 (San Antonio)
With five years of NHL experience, it’s no surprise that Pouliot hasn’t struggled in the AHL so far. Pouliot leads all defensemen with 18 points in 20 games, with his 14 assists putting him in a four-way tie for fifth overall. Pouliot recorded points in all but three of his 11 games in November, posting 10 points and two multi-point efforts along the way. Given Pouliot’s experience in the NHL, the first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2012 (eighth overall) was an obvious call-up to St. Louis earlier this month prior to a Blues’ road trip, but he hasn’t dressed in any games yet.
Nathan Walker, LW, 25 (San Antonio)
Seventh time’s a charm? Walker has been a solid AHLer throughout his career, but he never found his offensive flair during his tenure with the Hershey Bears. But through 20 games with San Antonio this season, Walker has registered 22 points prior to earning a call-up to St. Louis this week. In a full campaign, Walker is on pace for around 80 points, which would easily surpass his career-high 41-point campaign in 2015-16. Walker, the only Australian to play in the AHL, has shown tremendous chemistry with Mike Vecchione and has been a good influence on young forward Jordan Kyrou before the youngster’s potential transition to full-time NHL work next season. Walker will be San Antonio’s ticket to success in the Central Division, a group that features six teams within two wins of each other.
Reid Boucher, LW, 26 (Utica)
After a dominant offensive start to the season, Utica found themselves without Boucher (groin injury) and Sven Baertschi (NHL call-up) at points in November. Boucher, however, returned in style, scoring a hat trick in his first game back after missing five contests, before posting another two multi-point efforts over the next two weeks. Having Baertschi back in the lineup will only further help Boucher’s scoring touch that saw him post 108 points in 101 AHL games prior to this season. The North Division race is tough with Toronto and Rochester having hot starts, but Utica sits fifth in league scoring, and Boucher’s 14 goals in 15 games are a big reason why.
Matthew Phillips, RW, 22 (Stockton)
Hey Calgary, need offense? Phillips can provide it. A sixth-round pick by the Flames in 2016, Phillips has 19 points through 18 games with Stockton, highlighted by a four-point effort against San Diego and a three-point night versus Ontario. Phillips is small at 5-foot-7 and 154 pounds, but it hasn’t held him back this season as his speed has made up for it. Having Ryan Lomberg (18 points) and Glenn Gawdin (17 points) as linemates has helped fill the holes left by his less-than-ideal defensive play and lack of physicality. He’s got true top-six scoring potential, but he isn’t that useful in a checking situation.
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