Brady Tkachuk, the No. 4 pick in the 2018 NHL draft, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
The decisions comes after a summer of considering his options, and wasn't made lightly.
"I am very excited to be a Senator," Tkachuk told NHL.com. "It was a tough choice because I loved my time at Boston University. I want to thank everyone who has helped me. I'm super excited to get things started."
In turning pro, Tkachuk will leave BU having finished his career with the Terriers after one season in which he racked up eight goals and 23 points in 41 games as a freshman.
The Senators will give the 6-foot-3 forward a chance to claim a left-wing spot on the opening-day roster—a position where the team lacks punch—though the organization’s current state of disarray could lead to Tkachuk spending the season with the London Knights, the OHL team that holds his rights, or the AHL’s Belleville Senators. Should he skate in 10 games with the big club, he’ll burn a year off his entry-level contract and inch closer to RFA status.
If he goes to the Knights, Tkachuk would still be able to hone his game in a high-skilled league, as well as compete again for the U.S. at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver and Victoria in early 2019, the same tournament he collected three goals and nine points in seven games in during 2018.
In making his decision now, Tkachuk hoped to give the Senators and BU time to adjust.
"Each party deserves to have the time to adjust to whatever decision is made and my goal has never been to make this a last-second decision," Tkachuk said in late July. "The decision will be based on what's best for my development short- and long-term; I want to have a long career and don't want to go somewhere and not have an impact."
"Brady Tkachuk exemplifies all the attributes around which we want to improve the Ottawa Senators," GM Pierre Dorion said of the signing. "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."
The Senators have had a busy offseason, dealing forward Mike Hoffman while working on the futures of forward Mark Stone—signed to a one-year deal this summer—and rising RFA Matt Duchene, as well as that of Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, who has long rumored to be on the trade block. The team does have some young talent in the pipeline as it dives into its rebuilding process, though there’s little doubt as to what the 18-year-old will bring to Ottawa—now or later, that is.
“You hear so much about his intangibles, but don't ever overlook his tangibles,” TSN’s Craig Button told SI ahead of the draft. “He's exceptionally smart, he's got excellent hands, he's a very good skater and going to get better. The game is played inside the dots, on the interior. All he does, whoever he plays with, is help teams win."
There’s also the matter of his pedigree, being the son of Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of current Flames forward Matthew. The younger Tkachuk's inherited their father’s knack for hard-nosed play, though the newest NHLer has made it clear that he sets the tone now.
“My family thinks I’m tougher than him, and Matthew’s not messing with me anymore,” he said in early June.
With Tkachuk under contract, the top six picks of 2018 are signed, with the winger joining top pick Rasmus Dahlin (BUF), Andrei Svechnikov (CAR), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (MTL), Barrett Hayton (ARI) and Filip Zadina (DET).