The Ottawa Senators announced a significant contract extension for general manager Pierre Dorion this week, but that wasn’t the news fans of the team were hoping for. No, the Senators faithful are waiting with clenched teeth as star forward Brady Tkachuk continues to sit unsigned with just a few weeks left before training camp opens. The 21-year-old winger is a restricted free agent but did not have arbitration rights that would have sped the process along, meaning technically he’s open to an offer sheet at the moment.
With one of those already signed this offseason and the Senators’ long history of watching star players leave on uncertain terms, Tkachuk’s situation will be concerning to many until an actual contract is signed. There were hints earlier this offseason that the team was hoping for an eight-year deal, with the inkling even that Tkachuk may become the team’s captain if a long-term deal like that was signed.
But that hasn’t happened yet, and now the speculation mounts. Shawn Simpson of TSN reported that “confused and frustrated” are the words he has heard in regard to Tkachuk’s feelings, while adding that the player does not feel a real offer has been even made to this point. That certainly isn’t the same impression that Dorion left with Sportsnet radio earlier Thursday when asked about the situation:
"We’re not going to really talk about it too much in public. We have had really positive talks. Are we confident that he will be signed by the time camp starts? Yes. These negotiations aren’t always easy and–not that it’s not easy, they take a bit more time. Hopefully the next time you guys bring me on the show, we’ll be able to announce a Brady Tkachuk contract."
Of the restricted free agents left to sign this summer, only Kirill Kaprizov and Quinn Hughes scored more than Tkachuk’s 36 points last season. The young forward has put up 60 goals and 125 points through three seasons, numbers that compare well to fellow 2018 draftee Andrei Svechnikov, who signed an eight-year, $62M deal last month. The Senators, meanwhile, secured the services of Drake Batherson recently, inking the 23-year-old RFA to a six-year, $29.85M deal that currently makes him the highest-paid forward on the team. Overall, Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $64M deal takes that spot for the Senators, signed in 2019 almost a year before his entry-level deal even expired.
The Senators will open the preseason on September 26 against the Winnipeg Jets, which is a little more than two weeks from now.