It seems the Ottawa Senators are not allowed to have nice things right now.
After entering the season with zero expectations due to the complete teardown of the roster over the past year, the team has actually gotten off to a better-than-expected start with a 3-2-1 record through their first six games, collecting seven out of a possible 12 points.
They have also been, perhaps even more shockingly, kind of fun to watch.
At the center of that start has been prized rookie Brady Tkachuk, the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, having already tallied three goals and three assists in his first four games.
Now he will be sidelined for at least the next month.
Senators coach Guy Boucher confirmed on Wednesday morning that Tkachuk will be out of the lineup due to a torn ligament in his leg that he suffered in Monday’s win over the Dallas Stars when he attempted to deliver a check. According to Boucher, the injury will not require surgery.
Tkachuk is an important player for the Senators not only because he was a top-five pick and should be a centerpiece for the ongoing rebuild, but also because of what he represents from an asset management perspective.
As a result of the Matt Duchene trade at the start of the 2017-18 season the Senators had the option of sending either their 2018 first-round pick or their 2019 first-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche to complete the trade. It put them in a difficult position because they knew the 2018 pick was the fourth overall selection, but given the nature of the rebuild and what the roster was expected to look like this season there was always a chance the 2019 pick could be even higher.
There was an argument to be made (one that was made here) that the Senators should probably sent the 2018 pick to Colorado.
They did not, and instead opted to keep it and select Tkachuk. As of Wednesday he is third among NHL rookies in total points with six, trailing only Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Tkachuk’s teammate, defenseman Maxime Lajoie. Both players have played in more games than Tkachuk.
Overall it has been a tough week for the NHL’s best rookies.
Along with Tkachuk’s injury, Pettersson is also sidelined for at least the next week under the NHL’s concussion protocol after he was body-slammed to the ice by Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson over the weekend, a play that resulted in a two-game suspension from the league.