September 13, 2018 was the last day the Ottawa Senators had a captain, as franchise defenseman Erik Karlsson was traded to the San Jose Sharks. Coincidentally, that was also Brady Tkachuk’s first NHL training camp, after being selected fourth overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Since then, Tkachuk has been the engine for the bus that is the Senators. He instantly became a fan favourite due to his meme-worthy behaviour on the ice and the way he antagonized opponents from the moment he joined the team.
Here’s an example of that in one clip. The puck retrieval, the quick release and then the celebration to top it all off:
This is already Tkachuk’s third NHL season, and the team has yet to name a captain since Karlsson. The general consensus is it comes down to him and franchise defenseman Thomas Chabot, but Tkachuk is beginning to separate himself from Chabot in that discussion.
Let’s discuss why Tkachuk should be the next captain of the Senators.
He’s Already Taken That Step This Season
Having 10 months off between meaningful hockey games is bound to make any player rusty, let alone a 21-year-old. But Tkachuk has shown absolutely zero signs of being behind the play.
In what’s been a depressing start for the Senators, Tkachuk has brought it every single night, as expected. Through nine games, he leads the team with seven points.
Aside from his consistent on-ice production, he is a natural leader off the ice as well. In all of his media availability before the season, he was hyping up all of the new changes the Sens had made in the offseason more than the actual team itself:
The season obviously hasn’t started the way he or anyone else would like. Even when his team’s losing streak was extended when he had a goal and an assist, but the penalty kill and goaltending were abysmal, he remained positive.
It’s blatant that Tkachuk has not been the problem so far, but the maturity he’s shown in his Zoom interviews this season has been very encouraging to witness. As a top player who has been producing while the goaltending has not been doing their job, it would be easy for him to not have the right attitude. Instead, Tkachuk has shown he believes in his teammates in this painful season.
For a more in-depth look at how good Tkachuk has been so far this season, take a look at Dayton Reimer’s 3 Stars of January.
Chabot Would Already Have It By Now
The only other player that could reasonably wear the “C” for the Sens would be defenseman Chabot. Somehow, Chabot is now the longest-tenured Senator. Already with 213 NHL games under his belt, he has stapled himself as the anchor on the Senators’ blueline.
For this reason, if Chabot were to be named the captain of this team, it seems odd that it hasn’t already happened. This is the first season of an eight-year contract he signed in September 2019, so he’s here for the long-haul.
In addition to that, he just celebrated his 24th birthday. What else is there left to see from him in terms of maturity? Fans have said that if Tkachuk were to get the C, he wouldn’t be able to be as much of a pest. Since being a pest isn’t Chabot’s style, the captaincy would suit him well.
Despite the notion that Chabot is as ready as he’ll ever be to take on the captaincy right now, Senators’ head coach DJ Smith coupled Tkachuk and Chabot together as guys who are the top candidates but aren’t quite ready to take on that role yet.
Read about that here.
The Pick They Used To Get Tkachuk
The beginning of the 2020-21 NHL season has been far from perfect, and fans have not been shy to voice their displeasure with the 1-8-1 record the Senators are rocking:
However, this all pales in comparison to the 2017-18 season, where the team was fresh off of being one goal away from the Stanley Cup Finals, and then everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong.
They were rewarded with the fourth overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, which they used to select Tkachuk, and the reaction on draft night gets funnier and funnier as the years go by.
Fans were not happy when Tkachuk was selected as the Sens left some appealing offensive talent on the board. It’s fair to say that he has all but silenced his haters, being one of the most dominant players from his draft class.
Since the pick they used to select Tkachuk was a result of that nightmare season, it would be fitting that he is named the captain to signify that draft selection’s importance in this rebuild. His arrival was the beginning of the end for the main core in Ottawa, so it would make sense if he’s the next captain of this team.
Offer It With The Extension
The obvious factor here is that Tkachuk will become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and the Sens have yet to sign him to an extension. That is undoubtedly general manager Pierre Dorion’s number one priority going into this offseason.
Tkachuk’s camp might even bring up the captaincy in the negotiations. Can’t you picture it? A press conference where they announce an 8-year contract extension and reveal Brady Tkachuk as the 10th captain in franchise history.
Seems pretty viable to me.
The concern about a Tkachuk extension, which both he and the team have stated isn’t a priority at the moment, is that his brother Matthew recently only signed a three-year bridge contract with the Calgary Flames.
If Brady does the same thing then that’s a major problem for the Senators, but that’s a bridge to cross at another point.
Either way, the Ottawa Senators have two great options for the next captain of this team, and they really can’t go wrong either way. The way they treat rookie Tim Stützle is evident of that:
Comforting hugs from Chabot:
Friendly bullying from Tkachuk:
Both are excellent choices, but Tkachuk has that aura to him that is impossible to hate if you’re a fan of the Senators, and the “C” would suit him perfectly.