If you have been a hockey fan for any kind of time, it is almost impossible to not know who Keith Tkachuk is. Having watched hockey for the entirety of my 28 years of life, Keith was a fixture in the NHL, and managed to eke out a Hall of Fame career for himself between Winnipeg, Phoenix, and St. Louis over the course of 19 seasons. Whether you loved him or hated him (I was decidedly NOT a fan), there was no denying that he was a great player. You might also be familiar with his son, Matthew Tkachuk, who, over the course of a mere season and a half, has already established himself as one of the biggest agitators in the NHL. Not only does Matt get under the skins of players, he has the skill to actually back it up. If you were to tell me a year ago that Matt has a younger brother that makes him look like a saint in comparison (as Ray Ferraro put it), I would have called you crazy. But, very early on last year, I learned that this was, in fact, true. Even just looking at this kid’s face, I could tell immediately that he’s going to be one of the biggest pests in the NHL one day. It’s written all over him. And today, that’s who we’re going to be talking about.
If you watched the World Juniors over the last month, you are already pretty familiar with Brady. Out of any of the 2018 eligible prospects at the World Junior Championship, Tkachuk led the way in scoring with 3 goals and 6 assists through 7 games. An impressive feat for an underage player if I do say so myself. In fact, I would say that Tkachuk improved his draft stock more than anybody not named Filip Zadina at the tournament, and is realistically someone you can reasonably expect to go in the top 5 now.
Prior to this season, Tkachuk split time between the USNTDP Junior team in the USHL and the US National U18 team. Over the course of 85 games, Tkachuk scored 37 goals, 40 assists, and logged a whopping 202 penalty minutes. Last April, Tkachuk was called upon to act as captain for the U18 tournament, where he scored a goal and had 6 assists over 7 games, helping the US capture gold. This season has seen Tkachuk in the NCAA, where he currently plays for Boston University. Tkachuk has had an impressive start to the season for a freshman playing against older competition, scoring 5 goals and 13 assists through his first 24 games. That is good for 6th among all U19 players in the NCAA in points, and 6th in P/GP. He is the only player in that top 10 that is in their first year of eligibility for the draft. Given the revelation that he has been for Team USA at the World Juniors, I think there will now be a strong chance that he becomes the highest drafted player out of the NCAA since 2015, when Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, and Zach Werenski all went in the top 10.
Name: Brady Tkachuk
Team: Boston University Terriers
Date of Birth: September 16, 1999
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO, USA
Current Team: Boston University Terriers
Wears: #27 (#7 in international play)
Weight: 196 lbs
NHL Comparable: Matthew Tkachuk
Future Considerations: 4th
ISS Hockey: 3rd
McKeen’s Hockey: 6th
NHL CSS (NA Skaters): 3rd
Stylistically, Brady is very similar to his older brother. Brady plays a power forward game. He’s big, and he’s not afraid to play that way, and he combines this physical aspect of the game with exceptional vision and hockey sense. Brady has good agility and possesses a strong stride. His ability to pivot and change direction sharply make him surprisingly mobile and slippery to deal with. Combine that with his reach and his already considerable strength, and he is a tough customer to knock off of the puck. To make him even tougher to deal with, his stickhandling is among the best in the draft. He has excellent range of motion with his stick, and has great control of the puck on his backhand, as well as on the toe and heel of his blade. He has a deft, soft touch on the puck, and when combined with his maneuverability, this lets him open the ice up a lot for him to make plays.
Brady’s pursuit of the puck is remarkable, and he is an absolute hound on the forecheck and on the cycle game. When you combine that with his physical play and his reach, he’s not the type of player that you’d want to lose sight of when you’re retrieving the puck in your defensive zone. Tkachuk’s release is quick, accurate, and has a lot of power behind it, making him dangerous at mid-range, but he is by far at his most effective when he’s at close range. Brady is at his best when he is working the puck down low along the boards and in the corners. When Tkachuk sets up shop deep in the offensive zone, he is a tough customer to deal with. He is extremely effective behind the net, able to often outmuscle or outmaneuver defenders to feed the puck into the low slot, which often results in either a dangerous scoring chance or a goal. In front of the net, he’s just as dangerous. His hands in close are top notch, and he is a nightmare to deal with when he’s around the crease. Not only does he have an excellent assortment of moves that can beat goaltenders from in close, his vision allows him to make plays to his teammates from in tight.
Tkachuk, as I said, is also an agitator with a serious mean streak to him. A team that drafts him can expect him to go out of his way to get under the skin and in the heads of his opponent. That being said, while he has been known to rack up penalty minutes in his junior years, Tkachuk has kept his nose relatively clean this year, taking 11 penalties in his first 24 games in the NCAA, and managed to take only one minor penalty through the entire World Juniors tournament. Much like his brother, and other agitators like Marchand, however, he can back up his nastiness with his skill. Thus, while one can reasonably expect him to get in the mix and go to the penalty box, he is far more of an asset than he is a liability.
Overall, Tkachuk is a very complete package. He’s physical, mean, but also combines that with the ability to act as a high-end playmaker and offensive catalyst. And to top it all off, his three zone play is excellent. He is useful in any situation you put him in. He’s dangerous on the power play, and is an great penalty killer. Tkachuk has top six potential written all over him, and could become an impactful two-way center at the NHL level one day. If he can hone his ability to throw opponents off their games while minimizing penalties and without crossing the line into suspension territory, Tkachuk will be all the more effective for it.
Video Credit: The Draft Analyst - YouTube
Video Credit: NHL Prospects - YouTube
Video Credit: Hockey Prospects Center - YouTube
Another chip off the ol’ block for Keith Tkachuk. Brady is, in every way, his father’s son, and stylistically, he’s staggeringly like his brother Matt. It is very easy to see why Brady will be a top 10 pick (if not a top 5 pick) in the upcoming draft. He ticks off the majority of things that GMs and coaches go googly-eyed for. He’s got pro-level size with the playing style that matches it. He’s got great utility and is useful in all situations. And, most importantly of all, the kid has some serious skill. Brady is a sparkplug that brings an infectious energy every time he steps on the ice, and I can see him carving out a very respectable career in the NHL. Given the Wings’ recent track record of trading wins and losses, I unfortunately see them playing themselves out of the chance to draft him, but in the off-chance that the Wings somehow land within the top 5 after the lottery, drafting Tkachuk would be an excellent choice. If you can look past Tkachuk’s abrasive style that can land him in trouble sometimes, Tkachuk brings a fierce competitiveness and tenacity to the table, and plays with the maturity of a player well beyond his 18 years. If not for anything else, it would bring me nothing but joy knowing that Keith now has to cheer for his son wearing the Winged Wheel.
Anyways, that concludes my discussion of Brady. When I return next, I will be discussing a two-way center that has quietly found himself sitting in the top 10 of NHL CSS’s midterm rankings for North American skaters, and currently the highest ranked Canadian-born forward on their rankings, the Soo Greyhounds’ Barrett Hayton. In the meantime, happy scouting!