American Hockey League

Eastern forwards showing lots of potential

In a continuing look at the crop of new prospects coming into focus in the American Hockey League, the attention turns to forwards. 

Mastering the ups and downs that come with the transition to the top developmental league in the world is a must for those who hope to find success at this level and, eventually, promotion to the NHL.

The first two weeks of this series featured a look at some of the top young goalie prospects in the American Hockey League. Each of the two installments that followed looked at five of the top defenseman prospects in one of the two conferences. 

Here is a look at five AHL Eastern Conference forwards with ample NHL potential (statistics are through Monday). A breakdown of Western Conference forward prospects will follow next week.

Drake Batherson, Belleville (Ottawa Senators) 

Batherson, in his second pro season, is already showing a knack for working through a difficult stretch and emerging that much more dangerous.

The 21-year-old continues to develop as a potential steal for the Senators, who selected him in the fourth round (No. 121) of the 2017 NHL Draft. Undrafted in his first year of eligibility, Batherson (6-foot-3, 206 pounds) had breakout season with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2016-17, scoring 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 61 regular-season games. He won the 2018 World Junior Championship with Canada, scoring seven goals in seven games. 

Batherson played 20 regular-season games with Ottawa last season and had nine points (three goals, six assists). Shortly after his return to Belleville, he went nine games without a point (from Dec. 29, 2018 to Jan. 18, 2019), followed by a 10-game point streak (nine goals, 21 assists). He finished the season with 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 59 regular-season games and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.

Video: NYR@OTT: Batherson deflects puck past Lundqvist

This season, he made Ottawa out of training camp but was sent to Belleville after playing in two games. He has 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 21 games for Belleville and is tied for the AHL scoring lead with Chris Terry of Grand Rapids and Jansen Harkins of Manitoba. 

Alex Formenton, Belleville (Ottawa Senators)

The talent pool that Ottawa is building with Belleville extends beyond Batherson. Many of the roots are in the 2017 draft.

Ottawa selected Formenton (6-2, 165) in the second round (No. 47) of that draft. He made an early impact by making the Senators as an 18-year-old before eventually returning to London of the Ontario Hockey League. He also was on the championship team for Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championship.

He again made Ottawa at the start of the 2018-19 NHL season and played nine games with one goal. Returned to London again, he scored 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 31 regular-season games. In the OHL postseason, he had 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) in 11 games.

The 20-year-old has 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 20 games with Belleville. 

Egor Korshkov, Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs) 

The 23-year-old is bigger (6-4, 214) and older than many of the other players in their first season in the AHL. Selected in the second round (No. 31) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Korshkov played three seasons with Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League before going to the AHL.

He had five points (three goals, two assists) in 19 regular-season games with Yaroslavl last season, then joined Toronto for its run in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He had one goal in nine games.

This season, he has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) through his first 21 AHL regular-season games.

Jack Studnicka, Providence (Boston Bruins) 

Studnicka (6-1, 171) has taken on a big role as a 20-year-old rookie for a team that is in the mix for first place in the Eastern Conference. 

Boston selected him in the second round (No. 53) in the 2017 draft. Last season, he had 83 points (36 goals, 47 assists) in 60 regular-season OHL games between Oshawa and Niagara.

Studnicka, who earned a two-game NHL audition last week, has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) and is tied for second in AHL rookie scoring with Owen Tippett of Springfield, five points behind Lucas Elvenes of Chicago.

Owen Tippett, Springfield (Florida Panthers) 

Tippett, selected No. 10 by Florida in the 2017 draft, is tied with Studnicka for the AHL lead in goals among rookies with 10.

The 20-year-old (6-1, 207) had 74 points (33 goals, 41 assists) in 54 regular-season games between Mississauga and Sarnia in his final OHL season. He had 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 17 OHL playoff games for Sarnia.

Tippett, who played seven games with Florida at the start of the 2017-18 season before being returned to junior, leads Springfield in scoring this season with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games. 

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