Yesterday afternoon the Ottawa Senators announced the signing of Aaron Luchuk to a three-year entry-level contract.
CapFriendly.com lists the two-way contract’s worth at an average annual value of $759,166, but it carries a $70,000 per season minor league salary.
The Senators have not had a ton of success parlaying undrafted, overage talent into useful players, so naturally there’s going to be a lot of indifference to this announcement.
The knock on Luchuk during his draft years was that his point production was never significant enough for scouts to overlook his underwhelming size. Listed at 5’10” and 180 lbs, Luchuk produced at less than a point-per-game level for the first three years of his junior career in Windsor.
Even though there was growth in his production in each successive season, it was not until this year that his numbers spiked enough to placate whatever concerns overshadowed his projectable upside.
Despite having recently been dealt to Barrie, his production has not suffered. In three games with the Colts, Luchuk has tallied three goals and five points. With 31 goals and 56 points in 33 games on the season, Luchuk not only leads the league in goal scoring, but he sits just two points back of Jordan Kyrou for the OHL scoring lead and is averaging 4.51 shots per game.
Having heavily scouted and drafted his former teammate, Logan Brown, the Senators have had plenty of opportunities to get an extended look at Luchuk.
Senators assistant general manager offered the following comments up in the team’s official press release:
“Aaron is a talented and proven goal scorer who plays a strong two-way game. He’s shown the ability to elevate his play in big games, as demonstrated by his play in last year’s memorial cup, said Senators assistant general manager Randy Lee. “He has high character, excellent hockey sense and is trusted by his coaches in critical times of the game. Aaron is a player we have had our eye on for some time and we are very happy to welcome him into the Senators organization.”
As much as Randy Lee loves to wax poetic about players stepping up in big moments (for what it’s worth, Luchuk scored the game winning goal in last season’s Memorial Cup), that Luchuk’s hockey IQ stands out as one of his best attributes will give him a chance to see if the production can translate and extend to the next level.
It’s not exactly like Belleville’s brimming with talent or even young talent for that matter. If the parent club continues to spiral out of the playoff picture and ultimately decides to rebuild, the organization could wind up bringing their best prospects to the NHL to see how they develop – which in turn, would leave some holes in Belleville’s lineup to fill in the next year or two.
At the very least, it’s not like there’s any risk involved with Luchuk’s deal. At the very least provides some organizational depth that the organization acquired at the cost of some money. Without moving any draft picks or prospects to bring him into the fold, Luchuk simply serves as a lottery ticket that the Senators are hoping one day pays out.