Decision Day has arrived for Brady Tkachuk and the 18-year-old, No. 4 overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft has decided to sign his entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators, per ESPN’s John Buccigross and multiple sources.
Now that Tkachuk has decided not to go back to Boston University for his sophomore season, the right move for the Senators should be to allow him to play the minimum of nine games and then send him to the Ontario Hockey League, where the London Knights own his rights. He’ll get to continue playing at a high level, be eligible to represent the U.S. at the 2019 World Junior Championship and the team doesn’t burn a year of his ELC. The American Hockey League is also an option, but only if the team feels he could make a return to the NHL club this season and they’re fine with him becoming a restricted free agent sooner than later.
Having Tkachuk around the 2018-19 Senators wouldn’t be the best for his development. The upcoming season is looking like another disaster and with the futures of Matt Duchene, Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone unresolved, and another high pick likely in the cards for next year’s draft, how would it be beneficial to have him around that?
“The decision will be based on what’s best for my development short- and long-term,” Tkachuk said last month. “I want to have a long career and don’t want to go somewhere and not have an impact. I want to make an impact wherever I go and be able to contribute and play my best. Having both options is a great problem to have; they are two great spots.”
The only thing playing the full year would do to help Tkachuk is eat a year of his ELC and bring him closer to a contract extension as an RFA. So you can also see why the Senators and owner Eugene Melnyk wouldn’t want to splurge that early on a potential future core piece.
UPDATE: Tkachuk’s dad, Keith, confirmed the decision to NHL.com:
“We had Brady home this weekend and he decided to sign,” Keith Tkachuk said. “He is so emotional right now because he loves [Boston University] and his teammates. He’s such a great kid. He had the toughest call of his life calling Albie.”