Sens’ captain Tkachuk: ‘This is the most excited I've been going into a season my whole career’
The Ottawa Senators arguably put together one of the best off-seasons in recent memory.
After finishing the 2021-22 season with a 33-42-7 record, seventh in the Atlantic Division, general manager Pierre Dorion made a trio of marquee acquisitions, adding long-time Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat, and 2022 All-Star goaltender Cam Talbot.
Sens captain Brady Tkachuk is thrilled with the club’s off-season additions and says the entire roster is ready for training camp to begin in a little under two weeks.
“This is the most excited I've been going into a season my whole career,” said Tkachuk on TSN1200. “The positive vibes and momentum, we just want to carry that into the season.
“Everyone is so excited to get camp going and get off on the right foot.”
Tkachuk says Giroux, the longest-tenured captain in Flyers history, and DeBrincat have both made early impressions on the dressing room both on and off the ice.
“I've been able to get to know [Giroux] this last week and he's going to be great for our group. Everybody knows the career he's had, he's been top of the league for the last bunch of years and a captain for a reason,” said Tkachuk. “[DeBrincat] is an unreal player. Everyone knows about his shot but people don't realize how good of a skater he is. He's already fit in so well.
“We just have an awesome group. That's what's going to make our group so special, just how tight we already are and how tight we're going to be.”
The Senators fell out of contention early last season, as injuries forced Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, and Thomas Chabot to miss large portions of the season. However, the Senators' young core did flash their potential once healthy late in the season, posting a 10-5-1 record over the final month of the campaign.
Tkachuk says the team wants to carry that momentum into the first game of the regular season on Oct. 13 against the Buffalo Sabres, adding that the Senators will have a target on their backs thanks to the new roster additions.
“We have a lot of threats now, and a lot of depth on our lines. We're going to get a lot of other teams’ best now with our improvements so we're just going to have to master our game right from day one,” said Tkachuk. “We showed glimpses last season so we're fired up to get camp going.
“We need to put our best foot forward because every game, every point matters. If we get off to a good start and carry that momentum we'll be happy. Everybody's ready to go and we think a lot of good things will be coming this year.”
One team Tkachuk looks forward to competing with will be the new-look Florida Panthers, who acquired his brother, Matthew, in a blockbuster deal with the Calgary Flames over the summer. With his brother now playing in the same division, Tkachuk says the light-hearted contests they're used to will be a things of the past.
"Initially, I was so fired up for him. It was pretty surreal. As it sunk in we thought 'It won't be the fun atmosphere it was before'. These are divisional games now," said Tkachuk. "We're probably going to have to play each other in a couple of playoff series down the road. One of us will be going home. It's definitely going to be awesome and those games are going to be ultra important."
The Senators also focused their off-season sights on their homegrown players, locking up Norris and Tim Stützle to long-term contracts this summer. Tkachuk, who signed his own long-term deal prior to the start of last season, is excited by the prospect of playing with the Sens' young core for years to come and believes that adding established players to the team’s exciting young core will help them reach the next level this season.
“Both those guys deserve everything they've gotten. They're two unbelievable players and unreal guys,” said Tkachuk. “I'm super excited to play with them for the next bunch of years and make a lot of great memories.
“I'm really excited about the future of this team. I believe in this group, I believe in who's coming and I believe in what our goals are going to be. I believe we can achieve them and I'm super excited about that.”