As the playoffs begin, the off-season is in full swing for the Ottawa Senators. The end of the season was a tremendous success for the young group as they were one of the hottest teams to end the year.
However, that success does not mean that there will not be a discussion of what should happen this off-season. The biggest thing on everyone’s mind is the contract of Brady Tkachuk.
Three Years of Brady Tkachuk
In three years with the team, Brady Tkachuk has left his mark. Picked fourth overall in 2018, there was initially a lot of skepticism in the fanbase after he was picked over the high-flying Filip Zadina.
However, in the three years since then, he has quickly become a fan favorite, and the chalk pick to be the team’s next captain. That being said, his popularity does not mean that he should earn upwards of $8 million a season as many fans think.
In his first season, he put up 45 points in 71 games. He followed that up with 44 points in 71 games in the Covid shortened season. This year, he put up 36 points in 56 games. These point totals come out to be 51, 50, and 52 point seasons over the course of 82 games.
So, it’s safe to say that when it comes to points, he has not seen any significant improvement. That does not mean that he will not improve in the future. After all, he’s just 21 and many players do not have their breakthrough season until they are 23 or 24.
Assessing Brady’s Value
Brady Tkachuk is an interesting case when it comes to comparables. He’s a 50 point player at this point in his career, which is good but not great. However, he brings other things to the team including being a pest. He was one of the leading hitters in the league, and he brings an edge to his play that cannot be overstated.
Other intangibles include his leadership ability which makes him more valuable to the Ottawa Senators than he would be to any other team. While these extra factors make him more valuable to other 50 point players, it does not mean he should be paid like a point-per-game player going forward.
The most obvious comparable to look at for Brady’s next contract is his brother Matthew of the Calgary Flames. Matthew put up similar point totals to Brady in his first two seasons, albeit a bit better. However, his third season saw him breakout with 77 points in 80 games.
He then signed a 3-year contract with $7 million AAV. If Brady elects to sign a bridge contract like his brother, we should expect him to sign somewhere in the $6.5 million range. However, current reports seem to lean towards Brady signing a long-term deal.
Comparables for Long Term Deals
When trying to assess Brady’s value on an eight-year contract, one of the best comparables is Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes. Keller had a phenomenal rookie season, putting up 65 points in 82 games. However, he regressed the following season to 47 points in 82 games.
The next year he put up 44 points in 77 games to close out his entry-level contract. However, for the purposes of this comparable, we will look at the first two seasons because Keller signed his contract a year before his entry-level deal expired.
After two seasons in the league, Keller signed an eight-year contract with an AAV of $7.15. He showed tremendous offensive upside in his rookie season before regressing to point totals closer to Brady Tkachuk. Now, the two players are not very similar players.
Keller is a skill player with more offensive upside, whereas Brady is more of the prototypical power forward. Keller will probably put up more points over his career than Brady, but Brady has intangibles that Keller does not.
When you take into account the strengths and weaknesses of Keller and Tkachuk, they have similar value to their respective clubs. Additionally, they both represent teams that need to overpay to keep star players. Fans may not like it, but smaller market teams like Ottawa and Arizona need to pay more than the New York Rangers or Bruins to keep their stars.
How Much Will Brady Tkachuk Make?
After looking at the comparables for his next contract, I would expect Brady to make somewhere from $7 to $7.5 million a season on an eight-year contract. He could make up to $8 million, but anything over that would be too much.
$8 million is the same amount Chabot is making, and Chabot is the team’s most valuable player by a long shot. Tkachuk might be loved more by the fanbase, but Chabot is more valuable on the ice.
It’s also important to look at where Brady ranks in the forward group. In three years, where is he going to play? If players progress as we expect, Brady will at best be our fourth-best forward. Stützle, Batherson, and Norris will all be ahead of him on the depth chart. It’s also possible that Pinto could pass him in value with his tremendous defensive play, and who knows what could happen if the team drafts a player with their draft pick this year.
Brady Tkachuk will likely be the next captain of the Ottawa Senators, and he will be a valuable player on the team for years to come. However, he doesn’t have the superstar upside that many other players on the team do. He will probably never be a point per game player, and that’s ok.
He doesn’t need to be for the team to be successful. However, if the team pays him like he is, they might be an unfortunate cap situation in three years that could result in them failing to retain key players for future playoff runs.