With less than a week to go before the Ottawa Senators take to the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre for the first practice of their 2021-22 training camp, fans remain a bit nervous about what the future will hold for Brady Tkachuk. But, according to reports, work on a new contract might be close to being finished.
Meanwhile, according to the Ottawa Sun, Tkachuk and Belleville Senators’ forward Logan Brown (who is also awaiting a new deal with the Sens) took to the ice Thursday in St. Louis. Both players make their home in the state.
TSN’s Gord Miller told Mitch Melnick Sept. 14 on TSN 690 in Montreal that Tkachuk’s agents and the team appear to be creeping towards a resolution to the negotiations that have been taking place since Tkachuk’s contract expired at the end of last season. In fact, when it comes to other big names that remain unsigned, the Sens may have the upper hand on getting a long-term deal done first, he said.
“Quinn Hughes in Vancouver is going to be a really interesting case, and [Elias] Pettersson,” Miller said. “I think Tkachuk will get done in Ottawa pretty quickly. From what I understand, they’re getting close to getting something done there.”
Sens Rumoured Offer Gives Tkachuk $8 M for 8 Years
It’s out there now that the Senators are believed to have tabled an $8 million, eight-year contract for Tkachuk, a player which they have slated to fit into their leadership group with an eye towards being potential captain material. Former NHL defenseman Aaron Ward, who also appeared during another section of Melnick’s radio program, said this number makes sense for both sides.
“Let’s be honest, you’ve got to lock it up,” Ward told Melnick. The need to get it done comes especially into focus, given what happened between Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes. On July 1, 2019, the Habs signed forward Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet that the Canes eventually matched. In a retaliatory move, the Canes signed Kotkaniemi to a one-year $6.1 million deal that the Habs chose not to oblige this offseason.
“I got to believe that most teams now are aware of the fact that there’s not just been one shot across the bow, there’s been two,” Ward said. “That may play to the benefit of a lot of these guys that are trying to get signed that are of the status Tkachuk is. You don’t want to give these guys an opportunity to even look past the horizon and see what’s out there.”
If Tkachuk Signs a Bridge Deal, What Does That Mean?
It’s looking more and more like a long-term deal is in the offing for the player, but some, like Melnick’s co-host Mitch Gallo, believe Tkachuk may have been considering a shorter-term bridge contract as a means to an end. For example, Tkachuk turns 22 this week. If he signs a five-year deal that expires when he is 27, he will be eligible for unrestricted free agent status when it is complete. If he could somehow conspire with his brother to link up their free agencies, they could be free to go and sign somewhere together. Of course, this situation is nothing but wild speculation that is sometimes fun to think about. Though, I just don’t see that happening. Neither does Ward.
“You’re basing your foundation as an organization not just on the skill set, but in terms of the presence that the guy brings on and off the ice. You’re expecting him to be the mainstay of the leadership, the face of the franchise. I think that $8 million is a manageable and smart price tag to pay for a guy like that,” Ward said.
“Ottawa is looking at it as an opportunity to lock that in and get everybody else on the same page. When you establish your leadership group — and the guy has been there and seems to be content, happy; wants to embrace the moment, you reward a guy like that.” Later he added, “he’s proven himself worthy to this organization, and he’s shown his value.”
If down the line, things do get hairy for the Sens, and Tkachuk is unhappy with where the team is or his role on it, an $8 million cap hit for a player of his caliber should be manageable, and fit into another team’s cap situation. With enough distractions to come for this team as the season gets rolling for the Senators in a tough Atlantic Division, this is one many would like to have out of the way sooner rather than later.
Mike Carter is a freelance writer and contributor for the Buffalo Sabres with The Hockey Writers and NHLTradeRumors.Me He is @mikecarterlives on Twitter. Mike has been writing professionally since 2012, with stints as a reporter in northern British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta. He now calls Salmon Arm, B.C. home.