Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
With next to nothing happening in the hockey world this month, I thought this would be as good of a time as any to profile members of the Calgary Flames.
I'll be commenting on their performances last season as well as projected role and expectations moving forward. I've profiled 12 Flames thus far, with Sean Monahan being the most recent
Today we're going to take a closer look at Matthew Tkachuk.
80 games played, 77 points (34 goals, 43 assists), 17:36 average time on ice
2.27 points/60, +4.49 CF% Rel, -0.50 GF% Rel, +1.50 xGF% Rel, 0.996 PDO
Tkachuk was a very good two-way forward his first couple of seasons in the NHL. He drove possession, played excellent defense, drew penalties, and recorded 48 and then 49 points. Last season, as a 21-year-old, Tkachuk took a big step forward moving from very good to elite. He still drove play, and drew penalties, while matching up against opposing team's top players on a nightly basis. The difference? Tkachuk was an absolute force offensively – and not just as a playmaker, where he primarily excelled in junior and early in his NHL career. He scored 34 goals after tallying 37 combined over his first two seasons.
Tkachuk is already one of the league's best players below the dots and that was on full display nightly. He made a living deflecting pucks and burying trash around the net. It didn't take away from his ability to create for teammates, either. Tkachuk was a legitimate positive in every aspect of the game and is looking to be compensated accordingly. It's hard to fault him for that.
Tkachuk averaged more goals/60 at 5v5 than Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, Gabriel Landeskog, Jack Eichel and Mike Hoffman, among many others. Not bad for a playmaking super-pest!
The sky is the limit for Tkachuk. I really believe that. He's as complete of a player as you'll find and, at 21, the best is yet to come. There's more room for him to grow individually. Better linemates (eventually) could raise his ceiling as well. As much as I love Mikael Backlund, his offensive game *can* be inconsistent. Michael Frolik is hardly an ideal top-6 winger at this point in his career. If the latter is replaced with someone more gifted offensively – maybe Andrew Mangiapane will get some top-6 reps – I think Tkachuk could become even more productive.
At any rate, Tkachuk's ability to impact the game in all aspects make him one of the three most important members of the Flames (Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano are the others, in my opinion) next season. You could argue higher considering the linemates he's working with. He really has to drive L2. Don't get me wrong – Gaudreau is the driver on L1. But if he goes cold for a couple games, it's more likely Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm can pick up the offensive slack on L1 than Backlund and Frolik stepping up on L2 if Tkachuk hits a cold spell.
numbers via naturalstattrick.com and hockey-reference.com
Best forward duo in the Pacific Division?
Best forward duo in the Metro Division?
Best forward duo in the Atlantic Division?
2019 player profile: Johnny Gaudreau
2019 player profile: Mark Giordano
Top-5 wingers 22 & under?
Top-5 defensemen in the Western Conference?
Top-5 wingers in the Western Conference?
On the Milan Lucic trade