Tkachuk to make season debut with Senators against Sharks


Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut for the Ottawa Senators when they host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

“It’s been a while since we’ve played so been champing at the bit for a while now and definitely excited to get going,” Tkachuk said Wednesday. “I’m feeling good. The last two team practices I’ve been going up and down the sheet so I’ve been feeling pretty good, feeling energized and feeling ready to go.”

The forward, who missed the first three game of the season for Ottawa (2-1-0), signed a seven-year, $57.5 million contract with the Senators on Oct. 17 after not taking part in training camp. It has an average annual value of $8.214 million and runs through the 2027-28 season. 

“I think it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment in getting up to speed with the different types of plays, which usually comes easy by midseason, but at the start it takes time,” Tkachuk said. “So, I think, for myself, just keep it as simple as I can, just move it, skate, get open, and try to really simplify my game and make life easier for [linemates Josh Norris and Drake Batherson].”

Norris said Tkachuk fit right in when he returned to the Senators.

“He’s looked like typical old Brady,” Norris said. “It’s nice to have him out there. I feel comfortable with him and I know where he is on the ice; it’s just really easy to play with him and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Tkachuk led the Senators with 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season. He also led them in penalty minutes (69) and was second in the NHL in hits (248), two behind Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas, and shots (220), two behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews.

“It’s good to have him back out there,” coach D.J. Smith said. “Just gives us an element of, obviously his scoring and his physicality and energy. He hasn’t played a game in a long time so as we practice more and as he plays, it won’t take long [for his timing].

“When you play with emotion in sports, I think you always got a chance and sometimes you get in games and you see there’s no emotion out there and he’s a guy that can bring it every night and when he brings emotion our guys feed off of that.”

Matt Murray, who hasn’t played because of an illness unrelated to COVID-19, will also make his season debut Thursday. The goalie was 10-13-1 with a 3.38 goals-against average and .893 save percentage in 27 games (25 starts) in his first season with the Senators in 2020-21.

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