The Ottawa Senators locked up a key part of their future on Friday by signing forward Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.8 million contract.
It is a bold move for the team because it is showing an enormous amount of confidence in a young player that is still relatively unproven as a front-line NHL player. Batherson was outstanding during the 2020-21 season with 17 goals, 34 total points, and great possession numbers for a rebuilding team and could be a player the team builds around long-term if he can build on that performance. But it was also the first time in three year that he showed that level of play. It is one of those contracts that could be a steal within a year or two depending what path his career follows.
Either way, he joins a young core that also includes Colin White and Thomas Chabot that are currently signed to long-term contracts.
Two other major parts of that core are Tim Stutzle, the No. 3 overall in pick in 2020 who is coming off a strong rookie season, and Brady Tkachuk, already the team’s best all-around player.
They do not have to worry about a new contract for Stutzle for at least another year (or two, given that he has two years remaining on his entry-level contract) but Tkachuk remains unsigned this summer as a restricted free agent.
That situation now becomes the most pressing issue for the Senators’ front office, especially as training camp gets closer.