Earlier today the Ottawa Senators fan base got some of the best news they've had in a long time when it was revealed that forward Brady Tkachuk had declared his intentions to sign a pro contract.
It was none other than ESPN reporter John Buccigross who broke the news on Saturday morning, revealing that the 4th overall pick in the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft had in fact decided to go pro. Buccigross sources revealed to him that Tkachuk had already informed Albie O'Connell, the head coach of Boston University's hockey program, of his decision to turn pro effective immediately, forgoing the college route in the process.
For a Senators fan base that has been down in the dumps this seemed like terrific news with most, including myself, assuming that Tkachuk would be placed on the fast track to the NHL. In fact I suspected that a strong training camp could have earned Tkachuk some significant playing time at the NHL level but that will not be the case.
Sportsnet reporter Jeff Marek is now reporting that Tkachuk will instead be taking a different path and will begin playing in the Ontario Hockey League effectively immediately. This is a very interesting decision on the part of Tkachuk and one that could allow him to really develop in one of the best develop programs in all of North America. The fact that the team Tkachuk will be playing for is expected to be the London Knights makes this move all the more interesting.
The London Knights have traditionally had a very close relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs largely thanks to owner Mark Hunter's role in the Leafs organization. Now however Hunter has left the Leafs after being passed over for the general manager's position and has instead returned to the London Knights as general manager. During his time as general manager of the Knights in the past he has helped develop elite level NHL talents and he will likely to do so again.
There's no doubt in my mind that Hunter will do everything in his power to help develop Tkachuk appear the fiasco with the Maple Leafs as the young man will of course go on to play with arguably Toronto's most bitter rival, the Ottawa Senators. It certainly adds an interesting wrinkle to this story at the very least and it will be interesting to see how Hunter develops Tkachuk and how quickly he can get him ready to make the jump to the National Hockey League.
Not everyone is happy with this move however as some members of the Senators fan base believe that his development would have been best served by remaining in the program at Boston University. I think it's safe to say that is debatable at best and obviously both Tkachuk, his father Keith Tkachuk, his agent and the Ottawa Senators all feel that this will be the best path for him to take in the long term. After being drafted 4th overall and having both his father and brother having played in the league before him expectations when he arrives to the NHL will be extremely high.
Photo Credit: Erich Schlegal/Bildybran-Zuma