When the Matt Duchene trade was announced last November, one of the players included from the Senators branch was Shane Bowers. Not being one to pay much attention to other teams drafts and prospect lists, like most people, I had no idea who he was. It turns out that he was a freshman center at Boston University and a good one. His left wing at the time was highly touted draft eligible Brady Tkachuk, who was also in his freshman year.
Even though they were a year apart for the draft, Bowers and Tkachuk were born just 7 weeks apart in 1999. Oddly enough, their seasons turned out very similar. Games played, points, shots on goal and even plusminus were all either the same or very close. They each had a goal and 4 assists in the Hockey East Tournament/NCAAs and Bowers or Tkachuk assisted on all 5 game-winning goals BU had in the post-season.
Listed at 6’2 and 186# he’s slightly smaller than Tkachuk. Internationally he’s been captain for Team Canada at the WHC U17s and played in the Hlinka-Gretzky two Summers ago. Right now he’s on track for the World Junior Championships in Vancouver this December.
He’s a strong 2-way center that plays both power play and penalty kill for the Terriers. About the only odd thing about his game is that he’s extremely effective in front of the net, which isn’t often where you see centers play in the offensive zone. He’s on track to make his NHL debut as early as this coming Spring after BU’s schedule ends.
Was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team and honorable mention for the All-Star Team. Tied for the team lead in GWG, 2nd in goals and 3rd in points. Freshman year breakdown:
Points – 17G/15A, 32P (0.80 PPG)
Power Play – 3G/2A, 5P
Shots on Goal – 128 (13.3 Sh%)
Penalties – 7/14 minutes
Came in at 6’3 and 192# at the combine in June. Before enrolling at BU he was in the USNTDP and played against Bowers in the USHL. He also was at the 2016 WHC U17’s and played in the 2017 U18 Worlds instead of the Hlinka as per usual for the top US players. Had a bigtime WJC this past year with 3 goals and 6 assists.
Tkachuk is a power forward/agitator (led the team in penalty minutes) that got lots of PP time with BU last year. He was picked 4th overall in this year’s draft, which was probably a little high but not terribly so. Depending on how things go he should make his NHL debut this Fall, although a trip to the OHL or the AHL is in the cards soon after.
Like Bowers he was on the HE All-Rookie Team and honorable mention for HE All-Stars. Led the team in assists and shots on goal. In fact led all NCAA Freshmen in shots. His freshman year breakdown:
Points – 8G/23A, 31P (0.78 PPG)
Power Play – 3G/7A, 10P
Shots on Goal – 131 (6.1 Sh%)
Penalties – 21/61 minutes
Bowers was the more productive guy at even strength and capitalized on his proximity to the net with more goals and better shooting percentage. If we had access to xG numbers I’m sure Bowers’ rate would be higher than Tkachuk’s. On the power play Tkachuk was more prolific given his consistent spot on the top unit. BU is always pretty freshman heavy but these two stood out massively this year and were a big reason they got their season turned around and ended up winning the Hockey East Championship.
Don’t get the impression I’m doing a sell job on Shane Bowers over Brady Tkachuk here. If you had to bet on one of these fellows having an outstanding NHL career Tkachuk is the easy choice. It’s just interesting to look at these two with all the parallels and the fact that they are going to be linked together for a long time. Bowers drafted by Ottawa then given to the Avs in the ill-fated Duchene trade. Tkachuk was selected with the 1st round pick that some say Ottawa should have given up to the Avs. It’s going to be fun to watch and compare both over the next few years.