Calgary’s the place to be for Matthew Tkachuk.
And he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m excited to be drafted by such a good organization,” the London Knights forward said. “They have so many great players and now a coaching staff finally and great management. It’s going to be an exciting time. I hope to make the team sooner than later and help the team win.”
Tkachuk didn’t have to wait long to learn his NHL destination.
The Calgary Flames selected the 18-year-old sixth overall in the 2016 NHL Draft.
He had an inkling that he’d be headed west after the Columbus Blue Jackets opted to select Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles third overall, leaving the Edmonton Oilers with Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi and the Vancouver Canucks with defenseman Olli Juolevi, Tkachuk’s teammate.
Tkachuk is happy his gut feeling was correct.
“At the beginning of the day, if you would’ve told a lot of people that the draft would be in the order it is now they would say definitely not. I was one of those guys,” he said. “It’s such a relief to go to a team that you want to go to and it makes it that much better. Everybody says how special it is to play in the NHL, but if you really love the team that picked you it makes it that much better.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“The young talent they have, and they’re an up-and-coming team, and new coaches is awesome, and their management is great. There’s just a lot of really good guys in that organization. That’s what you need to build winning teams. Chemistry has to be there and it’s there in Calgary.”
Tkachuk’s long draft journey came to an end with the selection by the Flames.
He recorded 30 goals and 107 points as part of a 57-game regular season with the Knights, and added an OHL-leading 20 goals, and 40 points in 18 playoff games to help London to the J. Ross Robertson Cup as league champions.
He had five goals -- including two in the tournament final; one of which being the overtime winner -- and eight points en route to a Memorial Cup championship.
The Scottsdale, AZ native, and son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, admitted it’s been a wild conclusion.
“It’s been a crazy last month winning the Memorial Cup and now being drafted,” he said. “It’s a month I’ll never forget. It’s something I’ll remember, my family will remember. They’ve been at the Memorial Cup. They came to the draft. I have 80…100 friends and family here.
"They’re so excited for me because deep down they know how much I love Calgary and how good of a fit it is. They’re smart hockey people. They know what’s good and what’s maybe not so good.
“Calgary’s the spot to be.”
At least to former Flames great Al MacInnis.
Calgary is the place for Tkachuk to be.
“My dad told me that when I was getting picked by Calgary, Al MacInnis texted him and said, ‘You’re lucky,’” Tkachuk said.
“That’s good to hear.”