No Ottawa Senators player has worn the ‘C’ on their sweater since Erik Karlsson was dealt to San Jose in September 2018. While there are no plans to name one this season, Brady Tkachuk should be the odds-on favourite to be named captain next season, that is providing the Senators’ braintrust elects to do so.
The timing is right. A restricted free agent at this season’s conclusion, if only from marketing perspective, having Tkachuk ink a deal and be presented with a no.7 sweater complete with a ‘C’ stitched on it, would go a long way to satisfying the Senators’ fan base.
It’s not that the club will have an issue selling tickets. Fans will be clamouring to view their beloved team in person, at least if that it’s possible.
They’ll want a player to rally around.
The 21-year old is a whirling dervish on the ice – noticeable on every shift. Whether it’s throwing a big hit, keeping the opposition on a swivel – scoring a clutch goal – firing pucks on net, hoping for a rebound – or even dropping the gloves once in awhile. Tkachuk can do it all, a rarity in the game today.
In the words of his teammate and housemate, Josh Norris, Tkachuk can “crank” up the team.
For example, take the St. Louis resident’s effort Tuesday versus the Canadiens. Tkachuk notched a pair of goals, posted four shots on goal, 10 total shot attempts. recorded seven hits in 18:26 time-on-ice, which included a dust-up with Canadiens d-man Ben Chiarot. The fight with Chiarot came on throes of the Montreal d-man taking liberties on the 19-year old Stützle in a previous meeting. And oh yeah, Tkachuk had a couple of teeth chipped courtesy of a Shea Weber high stick.
Senators’ head coach D.J. Smith made a point of singling the power forward postgame Tuesday, “Credit to a lot of guys, and certainly Brady Tkachuk tonight – dragged us into that battle. I don’t know if he’s played a better game since I’ve been here.”
Notching five goals, two assists over the past six games, Tkachuk has been a catalyst in the club’s resurgence of late.
The 2018 fourth overall Draft selection currently leads all NHL players in shots on goal (89), and ranks second league-wide with 90 hits.
Tkachuk’s first of two goals Tuesday was his 50th of his young career. At 21 years, 160 days, Tkachuk became the youngest Senators’ player to hit the 50-goal plateau. Alexei Yashin was eight days older when he accomplished this feat in 1995.
The power forward recently surpassed 100-point mark last week in Toronto.
Now in his third NHL campaign, compiling 15 points (eight goals. seven assists) in 21 games, Tkachuk is on a 30-goal pace if the team was to play an 82-game season. He had 22 and 21 markers respectively in his first two seasons.
At six-foot-four, 211 pounds, Tkachuk can be a pivoting factor on the ice. His combination of earning points combined with accumulating penalty minutes, (30 in 2021, 106 last season) reminds hockey afficionados of his dad, Keith, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet, players of this ilk.
Tkachuk’s main challenger for the Senators’ captaincy is Thomas Chabot. The slick, smooth skating, agile defender leads by example. at both ends of the ice. Among the league leaders in time-on-ice (25:42), Chabot gives it his all every game.
Playing in the first year of an eight-year, $64 million contract, the team invested heavily in the 24-year old.
The separation between the pair is miniscule. Chabot and Tkachuk possess completely different skill sets, play different positions and are different personality types, at least in game. Chabot is calm and plays it cool. Well Brady, as they say is Brady – rambunctious and wears his heart on his sleeve.
Tkachuk’s innate ability to annoy opponents while contributing to the team’s success is an aspect teammates tend to rally around. He leads by example and his mates are all in.