Though the news had already broken over the last few days, the Ottawa Senators today officially announced the three-year entry-level contract for top pick Brady Tkachuk. The fourth-overall selection in the 2018 draft, Tkachuk has turned down an opportunity to return to Boston University this season and instead will sign his first professional contract. Senators GM Pierre Dorion released a glowing statement about his newest prospect:
Brady Tkachuk exemplifies all the attributes around which we want to improve the Ottawa Senators. He is a young man of exceptional character. We know how much he agonized over leaving Boston University, and we are encouraged by the degree of accountability and commitment this shows from him. Through tenacity, combativeness and work ethic, he also exemplifies leadership skills that we know will benefit the team now and well into the future. Most of all, Brady has shown us through his maturity that he is coachable, committed to teamwork, and determined to help us strengthen our team chemistry. For all these reasons, he is an exciting young player whose growth and development we are eager to support.
Though Tkachuk has signed and is now ineligible to return to BU, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be playing with Ottawa this season. He could now be sent to the London Knights of the OHL—where his brother played prior to jumping to the NHL—or the AHL Belleville Senators to work on his game at the minor league level. Though he is 6’3″ already and can dominate physically against players his age, jumping to the professional ranks will be an entirely new challenge and could lead to some real struggles. That’s the decision the Senators will have to make, though they can basically wait as long as they want. After ten games in the NHL the first year of Tkachuk’s entry-level deal will be burned, but the team could keep him up to 40 before moving him a year closer to unrestricted free agency. If they believe he can help the NHL team right away and isn’t overwhelmed by the grind of a professional schedule, perhaps we’ll see him in Ottawa all season.
Interestingly though the Knights have just brought back Mark Hunter into the day-to-day fold as General Manager, and the franchise comes with a long history of convincing high profile talent to spend at least one year in the OHL. Matthew Tkachuk was a star forward coming through the US National Team Development program playing with the likes of Auston Matthews and Jack Roslovic and had ties to Notre Dame (where he was once committed) and both Boston University and Boston College before deciding to head to the OHL for one season. That season, where he scored 107 points and was a big part of a Memorial Cup title, jumped him up to sixth overall in the 2016 draft and prepared him for life with the Calgary Flames. More so than any other CHL team the Knights bring with them a professional-type atmosphere and churn out NHL talent on a regular basis.