As part of a series examining some of the top American Hockey League prospects, NHL.com looks at the top eight forwards from the Eastern Conference this season, ranked in order of NHL readiness (Note: the top Western Conference forwards will run next week).
[RELATED: Top AHL defenseman prospects | Top AHL goalie prospects]
1. Drake Batherson, Belleville (Ottawa Senators)
The 22-year-old, who headlines a deep prospect pool for the rebuilding Senators, likely will spend the entire 2020-21 season in Ottawa. Batherson (6-foot-3, 206 pounds), a fourth-round pick (No. 121) in the 2017 NHL Draft, has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 23 games with the Senators this season.
Batherson is sixth in AHL scoring with 54 points (16 goals, 38 assists) athough he’s only played in 44 games. He had 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 59 games with Belleville last season and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.
2. Josh Norris, Belleville (Ottawa Senators)
Norris, who turned pro after he was selected No. 19 by the San Jose Sharks in the 2017 draft, is the top rookie scorer in the AHL and is tied for third in the league with 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 56 games. He ranks third in the league with 31 goals.
Ottawa acquired Norris (6-2, 192), who turned 21 on Tuesday, from San Jose as part of the Erik Karlsson trade on Sept. 13, 2018, and he has helped make Bellville into a Calder Cup contender.
3. Jack Studnicka, Providence (Boston Bruins)
The 21-year-old quickly took on a top role as a rookie for Providence, which is competing with Belleville and Hershey (Washington Capitals) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Selected in the second round (No. 53) of the 2017 draft, Studnicka (6-1, 171) has 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in 60 games, third among rookies, and has a league-leading seven shorthanded goals. He had an assist in his NHL debut with the Bruins on Nov. 26.
4. Alex Formenton, Belleville (Ottawa Senators)
The 21-year-old rookie is seventh in AHL scoring with 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists) in 61 games and is tied for fifth in the league in goals. Formenton (6-2, 165) is a big reason Belleville leads the AHL in goals per game (3.71).
Formenton, who won the fastest-skater competition at the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic with a lap of 13.356 seconds (third-best in league history), was selected in the second round (No. 47) by Ottawa in the 2017 draft, and has one goal in nine games with the Senators this season.
5. Alex Barre-Boulet, Syracuse (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The undrafted 22-year-old forward capped four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2017-18 by winning the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year Award. That season, he had 116 points (53 goals, 63 assists) in 65 regular-season games with Blainville-Boisbriand, prompting the Lightning to sign him as a free agent March 1, 2018.
Barre-Boulet (5-9, 172) scored 68 points, including 34 goals, which tied for the league lead with Carter Verhaeghe, in 74 games as a rookie in 2018-19. He won the Red Garrett Memorial Award as the top AHL rookie and was selected to the AHL All-Rookie Team. He has continued to produce this season with 56 points (27 goals, 29 assists) in 60 games, ranking fifth in scoring and tied for fifth in goals.
6. Morgan Frost, Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia Flyers)
The 20-year-old has split his rookie season between the Flyers and nearby Lehigh Valley.
Selected in the first round (No. 27) of the 2017 draft, Frost (5-11, 170) has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 20 NHL games this season and 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 41 AHL games.
7. Owen Tippett, Springfield (Florida Panthers)
The lone top-10 pick in this group, Tippett (6-1, 207) is eighth in rookie scoring with 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 46 games with Springfield this season.
Selected No. 10 by the Panthers in the 2017 draft, the 21-year-old played in seven NHL games in 2017-18 scoring one goal.
8. Morgan Geekie, Charlotte (Carolina Hurricanes)
A third-round pick (No. 67) by Carolina in the 2017 draft, Geekie (6-3, 192) needed time to adjust to the pro game before scoring 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 19 playoff games to help Charlotte win the Calder Cup last season.
The 21-year-old has 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) in 55 AHL games this season and played in two NHL games, scoring four points (three goals, one assist). He had three points (two goals, one assist) in his NHL debut March 8.