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GARRIOCH: Give Drake Batherson a big assist for helping Sokolov adjust to North America

Drake Batherson was a 2017 draft pick by the Senators and has had a couple of strong seasons with Belleville of the AHL. Before that, he was a linemate of Egor Sokolov with Cape Breton of the QMJHL.
Drake Batherson was a 2017 draft pick by the Senators and has had a couple of strong seasons with Belleville of the AHL. Before that, he was a linemate of Egor Sokolov with Cape Breton of the QMJHL.

It’s well documented Drake Batherson has a strong chance to have a successful National Hockey League career.

Down the road, he might be the kind of guy who will wear a letter for the Ottawa Senators.

When winger Egor Sokolov arrived in Sydney, N.S., to join the Cape Breton Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in August 2017, he and Batherson were staying with the same billet family, and they were also roommates on road trips, so one of the Senators’ top prospects took the young Russian under his wing, helping him learn English and the North American lifestyle.

At first, if they had to leave the house for practice at 9 a.m., Batherson would put that message in his phone, translate to Russian and show it Sokolov.

“I’ve been through it all with him,” said the now 22-year-old Batherson, a fourth-round draft pick in 2017 and now on the cusp of making the NHL after strong showings with Belleville of the American Hockey League for the past two seasons. “He came over, he lived with me and he didn’t know one word of English. I kind of had to teach him everywhere I went. Whether it I was going for a coffee or anything like that, I’d bring him along just to get him used to the environment in Cape Breton because it’s a lot different than Russia.

“He loves it here. It helped him last year because he’d been here for two years. He knew all the guys and he spoke the language. That helped him a lot to have success.”

Not only were they friends, but also linemates, and that helped the relationship to grow even more. It’s no wonder Sokolov credits Batherson for helping him make a mark and speaks highly of their relationship.

“That kind of built the chemistry between us,” Batherson said from his home near Halifax on Thursday. “He’s a guy who I always say has some of the best hands and shot I’ve ever seen. If you watch him, even in practice, he scores more goals anyone out there every single day. He’s got that natural scoring touch and he’ll tell you he shot pucks all the time growing up.

“He’s got that big body and he’s tough to get off the puck. He’s going to be a force every time he gets the puck. Every time he gets the puck, he’s dangerous if he gets that shot off.”

Sokolov said before the 2020 draft that Batherson kept telling him, “Ottawa is going to take you.” There was some inside knowledge involved because the Senators organization had been asking Batherson a lot of questions about Sokolov.

“I had gotten a few phone calls,” Batherson said with a laugh. “I’ve known him since he first came to Canada, so they were just asking me a few questions. He had a tremendous year last year, and, the questions I was being asked, I just felt Ottawa would take him i just wasn’t sure when or where. I just had a little itch they were going to grab him.

“I’m glad they did. I’m super-pumped for him.”

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