The Stanley Cup was won by the Washington Capitals on Thursday, which means the NHL draft is right around the corner. Teams around the league will ramp up their preparation for the offseason, including the Chicago Blackhawks.
For now, it appears the Hawks will stay at No. 8, but there is always a chance they could move up. If that ends up being the case, they may want to take a long, hard look at forward Brady Tkachuk. Before we get into Tkachuk, let’s first discuss why the Hawks would even take a forward early on in the draft.
My last three scouting reports have been on defensemen, and for good reason–the Hawks need them. Despite bringing back almost the exact same personnel, the Hawks could still add defensemen in free agency or later in the first round with their other pick that was acquired in the Ryan Hartman deal.
The point is there are many other ways to acquire help on defense besides that No. 8 overall pick. Depending on how the start of the offseason goes, the Hawks may decide to take an offensive player in the first round. For the Hawks to start another playoff run, they will need to draft an impactful player, whether it be on offense or defense.
With that being said, the last name Tkachuk should sound very familiar.
That’s right Brady Tkachuk is the son of former NHL player Keith Tkachuk. Brady’s brothers also have had NHL success. It’s something that should help Brady throughout the entire draft process and when adjusting to life in the pros.
His older brother, Matthew went through the process in 2016. Brady believes going through that experience with his brother will help him when the 2018 draft rolls around.
“I think it’s definitely helped a lot,” Tkachuk said. “I get to talk to him and he went through it two years before. He’s got a lot of insight. He’s given me a couple pointers and he’s been a real big help.”
With the last name Tkachuk, Brady belongs in the NHL. He is expected to go fairly high, for sure top 10, maybe even top five. Last year, Tkachuk attended Boston University. In his first year in the NCAA, he scored eight goals to go along with 23 assists in 40 games. However, it was in the World Juniors this past spring where Tkachuk really proved himself.
He scored three goals, while also recording six assists while helping Team USA capture a bronze medal. Playing at a high level against some of the best young players in the world proved to all NHL teams that Tkachuk is the real deal.
This article will take a look at the forward’s skill-set and potential fit with the Hawks.
Tkachuk is by no means a bad skater, but he does have some things he can improve on. Specifically, with his agility and overall quickness. These issues can be seen when it comes beating out opponents on loose pucks. Tkachuk doesn’t do it enough. Strength, on the other hand, isn’t much of problem. Tkachuk’s solid lower body allows him to have a powerful stride. On film, it’s comparable to that of former NHLer Marian Hossa. Again, this isn’t a huge concern, but it is something Tkachuk will have to work on for a while.
In the video below, Tkachuk, number seven, skates all the way up ice. His long, strong stride is on full display.
Like the rest of his family, Tkachuk plays more of a physical than finesse game. In fact, he loves to muscle his way below the blue line. Tkachuk is at his best when he’s taking the puck to the net. Again, this reminds me something Hossa used to do in a Hawks uniform. Brandon Saad is also someone that plays a similar type of waste game. Unlike Saad though, Tkachuk seems to be aware of his strongest attributes and doesn’t waste time trying to puck handle around defenders.
His lower body strength that I mentioned above also makes it difficult for opposing players to knock him off the puck. He can often use his strength to fend off multiple defenders at a time, especially when he has the puck.
Here is a prime example of how Tkachuk likes to play.
Relentless backcheck followed by taking the puck to the net.
Teams shouldn’t sleep on Tkachuk’s wrister. It’s well above average and his quick release makes it that much better.
His hands also allow him to be able to redirect shots and handle sharp passes with ease, which is ideal on one-timers like on the play below.
Being in “the right place at the right time” is something Tkachuk does on a consistent basis. I attribute this to having a high hockey IQ. After all, his whole family is or was at some point in the NHL. Check out this play by Tkachuk.
It’s safe to say both his hockey IQ and instincts are off the charts.
Let’s be honest, the Hawks problem isn’t having a lack of young forwards. They have Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, and John Hayden just to name a few. Saad did have a down year, but he is still only 25. The Hawks don’t have an immediate need at the forward position, yet they would be foolish to pass on Tkachuk if he was there at No. 8.
He isn’t flashy and isn’t going to jump off at you on film. However, he does the little things right, while also playing a hard-nosed, physical game. Tkachuk gets the puck to the net, whether it be on a wrist shot or forcing his way through several defenders. He does have to work on his acceleration a bit.
Like every other professional sports draft, the upcoming NHL one will be unpredictable. My gut tells me that Tkachuk won’t be on the board when the Hawks are on the clock. With that being said, if he is it’s because the teams ahead of them went heavy on defense. Some teams might get turned off if Tkachuk decides to go back to Boston University. I don’t expect the Hawks to be one of those teams. Still, it will be interesting if Tkachuk makes a decision before draft night.
Tkachuk may not be the most flashy player in the draft, but the Hawks will have an easy decision to make if he’s on the board when they’re on the clock.
Check out my other scouting reports below.
Follow Nick on Twitter: @TLS_Petrusevski–Feature Photo Credit: NHL.com