Brady Tkachuk Signing With Senators

Brady Tkachuk will forgo another year at Boston University and sign a professional contract with the Ottawa Senators. The news was first reported by John Buccigross on Aug. 11 and was finally confirmed by the Senators two days later.

Tkachuk is coming off a 31-point season (eight goals and 23 assists) with the BU Terriers, which was fourth best on the team. He earned these totals while also spending a few weeks away from the team to participate in the 2018 World Junior Championship, where he won bronze with Team USA while tallying nine points in seven games — third best on the team and sixth best overall.

The London Knights Conundrum

Should Tkachuk sign a contract with Ottawa, he and the front office have a choice as to whether he will play in the NHL or in the OHL with the London Knights. This situation arises because of an agreement between the NHL and CHL where, should players under the age of 20 not make the NHL roster, they will not report to the AHL but to the CHL affiliate. Despite Tkachuk being an NCAA product, his ability to play in the AHL is wiped out by the agreement.

London is in a much better spot than Ottawa is when it comes to the standings. The Knights are still competitive and placed fifth in their conference last year, which is middle-of-the-pack. The Senators, on the other hand, placed second to last in their conference. Should Tkachuk fall into the hands of the Knights, he would be in a place where a long post-season is probable, which could help in his development.

The only problem Tkachuk might run into in the OHL would be the lack of older competition. The CHL is heavily seen as a developmental league for players age 16-20. Tkachuk will be 19-years-old by the time the season rolls around. To be one of the oldest players in the league would be a dramatic change from being one of the youngest in the NCAA, a league that hosts majority 18-22-year-olds. After his success against older competition, it might be a step in the wrong direction. The upside is his chance to compete in the 2019 World Juniors in December are high.

There is still a high likelihood that the 6-foot-3 power forward can make the Senators roster.

“Yeah, I mean I’m obviously gonna talk with Ottawa and, ya know, see what their thoughts [are] and I’m gonna talk to my parents and my advisor team to see what’s best for me in the long run, but obviously it’s a huge goal of mine to play in the NHL as quick as possible. But if not, it’s another year to develop,” Tkachuk said shortly after being drafted by Ottawa.

Brady Tkachuk Senators
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators, 2018 NHL Draft, Dallas, TX, June 22, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If getting the fourth overall pick in the draft didn’t say enough, the Senators are a long ways away from competing. Only three players on the roster had 50 or more points. And, given the rumors still swirling around captain Erik Karlsson, the team is poised to be in an even worse place than they already are.

That being said, Ottawa has room for Tkachuk. He could easily slip into the second-line center position and be a force to be reckoned with on a dismal roster. It’s not so much if Tkachuk can make it, but more if he will make it. While playing on the NHL level against older competition can immensely help him, a short season on a non-competitive roster might hurt him. This would also put question marks around his chances to make it to the WJC.

Either way, the Senators have a top-six forward in the system that will be a powerhouse and keystone to the franchise for years to come.