While NHL Central Scouting has just ranked Brady Tkachuk as the second-ranked North American skater in its final rankings, there is a reasonable chance that he will be available when the Canadiens step up to the podium and make the third overall pick of this year’s NHL Draft.
Tkachuk has however been described by some pundits as a polarizing prospect as recently as a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, there is now near consensus at this point that he will be a top-five pick. Tkachuk is listed as a left winger and described as a skilled two-way playmaking power forward. There have been some articles that have suggested he could be converted to the centre position but most prognosticators have Tkachuk projected as a left winger at the NHL level.
Position: Left Wing
DOB: September 16, 1999
Weight: 196 lbs
NHL Central Scouting: 2 (NA Skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 5
ISS Hockey: 4
TSN (Craig Button): 4
Future Considerations: 4
McKeen’s Hockey: 5
Brady is older than most eligible draftees as he missed the eligibility deadline for the 2017 NHL Draft by one day. His game is inevitably and reasonably compared to his brother, the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk, and his father, Keith Tkachuk, who played 19 years in the NHL and was also a very skilled power forward. Keith led the NHL one season with 52 goals and had over 1,000 points in his outstanding career.
Like his brother Matthew, Brady was drafted by the OHLs London Knights but, rather than play in the CHL, he opted to attend Boston University. This past season, Tkachuk had 31 points in 40 games at BU. As a member of the bronze medal-winning USA World Junior team, Tkachuk registered nine points in seven games, good for third place in scoring on a strong US team.
Tkachuk is described as very physical and a tenacious forechecker. Some scouts described him as “owning the boards” and he is dangerous in close for rebounds with his physicality and his superior hand-eye coordination.
Tkachuk rarely passes up an opportunity to hit but does have a tendency to take some penalties (over 200 minutes in 2016-17 although he averaged about two PIMS per game in 2017-18), There are some concerns about his first step – his lack of explosiveness does impact his ability to retrieve loose pucks – but he is able to join the rush once he gets moving. His skill is characterized as above average but perhaps not as elite as other prospects rated in the top four picks this draft.
Brady is a skilled passer and is seen as a pass-first forward, sometimes to a fault. He often attempts to set up his teammates and foregoes scoring chances for himself. When deployed, he has a good wrist shot and has a quick release.
Tkachuk is physical in all three zones. Defensively, he is a solid back checker that plays a solid 200-foot game. He uses his stick to narrow passing lanes, blocks shots and is universally described as tough to play against.
His family’s NHL pedigree is undeniable and most scouts are in agreement that he projects as a top line forward at the NHL level. There was material disagreement within the scouting community as to whether Tkachuk would be a top-five pick or would last until the middle of Round One. The consensus at this juncture is that Tkachuk will go somewhere in the top five.
Unlike a few other prospects that may be available at pick number three, it is unclear whether Tkachuk will play in the NHL next season or will remain at Boston University for another year of development. Recent articles suggest that he may return to BU for another season. However, this may in part depend on the needs of the team that selects him.
Given the Canadiens’ depth at left wing (and lack of depth elsewhere), if there is any consideration of organizational needs, Tkachuk may not be an ideal fit for the Habs. However, GM Marc Bergevin favours character players and Brady Tkachuk’s scouting report has character written all over it. Tkachuk would certainly be a great young asset for any hockey team, regardless of where that organization might be in its talent cycle.