After Vancouver Canucks draft pick Quinn Hughes decided to return to Michigan for another season instead of turning pro, all eyes turned to Brady Tkachuk to see if he would make the same decision. The Ottawa Senators prospect is expected to make a final decision by August 12th on whether he’ll return to Boston University or sign his first professional contract, but Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal adds that his performance in the current World Junior Summer Showcase could have a big effect on his choice. Cox tweeted that “all indications point” towards a return to BU, unless he finds himself at a level above his competitors in the junior tournament.
For what it’s worth, Tkachuk was held off the scoresheet—except for an early holding penalty—during his first game of the tournament yesterday, when the United States fell to Sweden 3-1. There’s obviously quite a few more matches to show off his talent, but it’s not a good start for those hoping a big performance would lead him to leave the NCAA after just one season.
If Tkachuk does go back, the Senators could always sign him at the end of the NHL season and even get him into a few games without burning a contract year. Because Tkachuk won’t turn 20 until September 20th, he could play up to 10 games and still see his contract slide forward, though it’s not clear when his year would end. If Boston University finds themselves in the Frozen Four mix, there might not be much time for him to join the Senators, making a 2019-20 debut more likely.
Hughes, Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom, who is expected to report to Boston College this season are all extremely talented players who shouldn’t be in the NCAA ranks for very long. While there is always a slight chance that one could finish his college years and become an unrestricted free agent down the road, players selected early in the first round virtually never go this route. All should be joining their respective organizations before long, and making an impact in the NHL in short order.