Yesterday we profiled the number one ranked North American skater, Pierre-Luc Dubois, as a possibility for the Canucks with the 5th overall pick. We now turn our attention to the #2 ranked Matthew Tkachuk.
Ranked as the best North American skater available for this draft all year, Tkachuk fell to second in the final rankings in April. But as Elliotte Friedman reported in his 30 Thoughts column, it looks like after a fantastic playoff run, Tkachuk is likely to be selected fourth overall before the Canucks ever take the podium.
Still, a lot can happen between now and then, including the possibility that Edmonton trades the fourth pick. If that happens, all bets are off on who goes #4.
Curtis Joe at Elite Prospects gives a great scouting report on Tkachuk:
A multi-dimensional energy winger that plays a pro-style, adaptive game. Well-versed as a guy who can consistently put up points, but also as an agitator who plays with a little bit of bite and nastiness. Skates with excellent balance and speed, outclassing many in his age range. No lack of offensive instincts and knows how to score in many different ways. Confidence in his abilities and playing to the extent of his capabilities strengthens his work ethic and creativity. All-in-all, a unique and effective forward who defines his own limits and seeks to exceed them, along with all on-ice expectation.
Matthew, the son of former NHL player Keith Tkachuk, has a full toolbox of skills that teams are rightfully drooling over.
If we breakdown his season, his 107 points has him first by OHL draft eligible players and his 30 goals puts him tied for third-most goals among that same peer group. What’s even more impressive is that he did this all as a rookie, where his counterparts in the OHL were usually in their second full year in the Canadian Hockey League. Tkachuk played in the USHL the previous season, making the move to the OHL with hopes of facing a higher talent level and thus raising his draft stock.
For his efforts, Tkachuk was named to the OHL First All-Star Team.
There is some concern about Tkachuk’s secondary assists totals, as it makes up a whopping 38.3% of his regular season points. Some make the argument that he was riding the coattails of two of the best junior players in the world in Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak. That concern is likely overstated, as quite few of those secondary assists were actually plays that created the opportunity.
For example, Tkachuk would draw a defender to him, pass to a wide open Marner, who would pass to Dvorak for a tap in goal. So the discourse and investigation that is created from that concern is definitely important, but when digging into it deeper, it becomes clear that Tkachuk was a huge part of their success.
Tkachuk further dampened those concerns with his fantastic OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup, where just 21% of his points were secondary assists. To put it frankly, the Scottsdale native was downright dominant throughout April and May. In the combined 22 games of OHL and Memorial Cup action, the 6’1″, 195-pound winger posted 25 goals and 23 assists, which is an incredible level of production.
He scored his final goal, the game-winning overtime goal in the Memorial Cup final, on a great shot after a nice toe-drag:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) May 29, 2016
Tkachuk also represented the United States at the World Juniors this past season where he posted 11 points in 7 games playing alongside consensus number one pick Auston Matthews. The U.S. squad walked away with a bronze medal and Tkachuk was a large part of their success.
Given how well Tkachuk performed in the latter half of the season, it’s become clear that teams view him as the fourth best prospect available in this draft behind Matthews, and the two Finnish stars Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Tkachuk is a player who can do everything well offensively and help the team in multiple areas.
He has also shown throughout his junior career, whether that be in the USHL, OHL, or World Juniors that he can compliment elite players. With Edmonton currently possessing the 4th overall pick and that guy named Connor McDavid, it’s easy to see how Tkachuk could be a perfect linemate for years to come. Alternatively, the Oilers may trade down with the incoming team having eyes on Tkachuk for the same reasons.
We won’t know what will happen until the night of the draft, but it’s fairly certain that Tkachuk will be snatched up 4th overall. However if for some reason Tkachuk is available when the Canucks select 5th, they would be wise to seriously consider taking the forward. He would give the Canucks a high-end prospect who projects to being a first line winger, something that they arguable lack right now.
The Canucks could choose Dubois or Tkachuk, or they may go a different direction and choose to select a defenceman in the first round this year. Tomorrow we will profile Tkachuk’s London Knights teammate, defenceman Olli Juolevi.