It was a memorable weekend for a pair of Cape Breton Screaming Eagles players as both Drake Batherson and Leon Gawanke heard their names called at the 2017 NHL draft in Chicago.
Batherson was chosen by the Ottawa Senators in the fourth round, with the 121st overall pick. Heading into the draft, the Eagle forward was ranked 117th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. Ottawa is an organization Batherson is familiar with, as his uncle Dennis Vial played five seasons with Ottawa while Drake’s father Norm skated for one year with the AHL’s PEI Senators.
The younger Batherson had a banner 2016-17 for the Screaming Eagles, collecting 58 points in 61 games in the regular season and adding another twelve points in eleven playoff contests. It was his rookie season at the major junior level. Drafted by Cape Breton in the sixth round of the 2015 QMJHL draft (at pick #97), the 6’1, 187 pound forward will be in his 19 year old season this coming year for the Screaming Eagles.
Not long after Batherson’s selection, Gawanke would have his name called by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round (with the 136th pick.) The German defenseman compiled an impressive 32 points in 54 games, and a +11 rating, in 2016-17 for Cape Breton. Going into the NHL draft he had been ranked 200th among North American based skaters by Centra Scouting.
2016-17 was Gawanke’s rookie season in the QMJHL, after he was chosen by Cape Breton with the 96th choice (second round) in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. The 6′ foot 186 pound blueliner won a silver medal with Germany at the 2016-17 Division 1A World Junior championship. This fall will be the beginning of his 18 year old season in the QMJHL.
Cape Breton helped lead the way for QMJHL teams at the NHL draft, as one of three teams in the league to have multiple players chosen.