Senators winger prospect Brady Tkachuk will make a decision on whether he will sign with the team or return to Boston University for his sophomore season by August 12th, reports NHL.com’s Mike Morreale. Leading up to the draft, there was speculation that Tkachuk was leaning towards staying in college but he clarified things saying that he would discuss the situation with whoever drafted him and make a decision at that time.
Tkachuk was drafted fourth overall by the Sens last month following a strong showing in his freshman campaign, one that saw him collect 31 points (8-23-31) in just 40 games. He also stood out at the World Juniors where he finished tied for fifth in tournament scoring with three goals and six assists in seven contests.
Physically, many believe Tkachuk is ready to make the NHL jump and considering Ottawa isn’t set to field a lineup full of high-end players, there is certainly room for him to step in and make an impact.
Is that necessarily the smart play, however? Many expect the Senators to be near the league basement next season with an expected trade of their franchise player in defenseman Erik Karlsson so is it in their best interest to burn one of their cheap entry-level years in a season where they’re not expected to really compete? Staying with Boston University and working on his all-around game while continuing to physically mature is far from a bad idea.
There are two other options though. By signing his ELC, Tkachuk wouldn’t be eligible to go back to college but being drafted out of the NCAA, he isn’t subject to the AHL age restriction that CHL players are so he could suit up for their minor league affiliate in Belleville where the usual 10 and 40-game thresholds apply in terms of burning a contract year and accruing a year towards UFA eligibility. Alternatively, he could theoretically be loaned to London of the OHL as they hold his junior rights although, on the surface, that’s the least likely option.
Where Tkachuk will play next year has been in question for a while now. It appears that question will now be answered within the next two weeks.