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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Brady Tkachuk, family footsteps

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The familial comparisons aren’t unwelcome, but Brady Tkachuk is a player all his own.

Canada v United States - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

You know Keith. You know Matthew. And you’re about to know Brady, if you don’t already. The younger son of longtime NHLer Keith Tkachuk, Brady is projected to go top five in Dallas this year (big bro Matthew went sixth in 2016).

Much like his father and brother, Brady Tkachuk is the opponent everyone loves to hate and the power forward everyone would secretly love to have on their team. Bob Motzko, who coached Brady at the 2018 World Junior Championships, predicted that the younger Tkachuk will grow into “a player that’s not very fun to play against.” High praise in the NHL.

Birthplace: St. Louis, MO, USA
Shoots: Left
Position: C/LW
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 196 lbs.
College team: Boston University

Image credit: Elite Prospects

Although capable of playing centre, Brady spent most of 2017-18 on the wing terrorizing opponents in the corners and in front of the net. His play without the puck and responsibility in his own zone certainly set him apart from other wingers in his age group, even though he wasn’t always the one scoring highlight-reel goals.

In USA’s bronze-medal performance at the 2018 World Juniors, he energized and charmed the home crowd as the team’s third-best scorer. He was a freshman force for BU upon returning to school after the tournament, leading the team in assists for the season and earning a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

Rankings

Future Considerations: #4
Hockey Prospect: #5
ISS Hockey: #4
McKeen’s Hockey: #5
NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters): #2

Thoughts

Dan Marr, Director of Central Scouting, commented that Brady is “a pretty complete package...he can play and be impactful in every situation, with and without the puck.” The player himself believes he has some of the best parts of both his dad’s and his older brother’s playing style, and Matthew agrees that “he’s more of a threat in all areas of the game” than the Calgary winger. Brady is also bigger than Matthew was in his draft year but he has a later birthday, missing the 2017 draft by just one day.

Tkachuk’s skill and physical play would be dangerous enough on their own, but combined with his high energy and hockey sense, Brady is poised to make the jump to the next level. Many scouts, and his former coaches agree, that he is already an exceptional player with serious potential to be a difference-maker at the NHL level.

“He’s a guy that steps up. He seems to rise to those occasions. That’s one of the real likable things about him.” — Dan Marr

Clearly Brady Tkachuk isn’t afraid to muscle in front of the net and score a dirty goal or two, but his assists are probably the most fun to watch. His hockey IQ and ability to make both skillful and physical plays to dish to his teammates make him a more promising prospect than some past players with similar size and point totals.

Although his closest NHL comparable is probably his brother Matthew, Brady’s game has a few key differences. For one thing, both were drafted by the OHL’s London Knights, but Brady chose to go to Boston University after his U18 season rather than play his draft year in major junior. While slightly less offensive-minded, Brady has been a good fit for the college game, making himself an invaluable contributor on both sides of the puck.

Again reminiscent of his brother, a repeated knock on Brady has been his tendency toward undisciplined play, racking up even more penalty minutes with the US National U18 team than his brother did in the same span. However, in his first year with the Terriers, he appears to have matured somewhat, averaging under two penalty minutes per game in the NCAA (for comparison, he spent 202 minutes in the box in 2016-17). When he’s not serving penalties, Tkachuk is a proven asset at even strength and on special teams.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brady following in his dad’s footsteps and moving up to the NHL after just one year at BU. But that decision will depend a lot on the patience and makeup of the team that drafts him. In many ways he’s proven that he can compete at a higher level, but he still has room for improvement and he might be better off staying at the college level to develop if he ends up being drafted by a team that has growing to do itself.

With the Canadiens potentially picking in the top five this year, it’s a real possibility that Tkachuk could be the best player on the board. His existing skill and IQ, power-forward pedigree and high ceiling all make him an attractive pick for any team and the Habs could certainly use the boost of forward depth and proven two-way game from a prospect.