TORONTO, ON -- Coming off a season in which he scored in overtime to help London of the Ontario Hockey League win the Memorial Cup, it is no wonder forward Matthew Tkachuk's confidence is at an all-time high.
Tkachuk, 19, was selected by the Calgary Flames with the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft in June and hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. His dad, Keith Tkachuk, played 18 seasons in the NHL and had 538 goals and 1,065 points in 1,201 games with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers. The younger Tkachuk already knows how to play and perform in important games.
"I am one of the few guys who was on a winning team this past year and I wouldn't say it was a fluke either," Tkachuk said at the NHL Players' Association Rookie Showcase at Mattamy Athletic Centre on Monday. "It was a total team effort and everybody played a huge part. I just think that I have that mindset where I know how to play in those big games and be on a winning team. I think that is a great for me and for everyone who was on our team."
A rookie with London, Tkachuk scored 30 goals and 107 points in the regular season, had 20 goals and 40 points in 18 OHL playoff games and eight points (five goals) in four Memorial Cup games.
Having won 16 straight games, London was the heavy favorite in the Memorial Cup Final, but trailed by a goal to Rouyn-Noranda late in the third period. London's Christian Dvorak tied it at 15:49 and Tkachuk scored at 7:49 of overtime for a 3-2 win.
"I was really, really wanting to somehow tie that game up late and Dvorak did," Tkachuk said. "When that happens, you have all the momentum and we could have scored three or four goals in the last two minutes (of regulation). The momentum carried over into overtime and it was back and forth, run-and-gun. Somebody was going to score and I was just thankful that it was our team that came out on top."
Tkachuk, who said his two favorite players growing up were Sidney Crosby and David Backes (who lived with his family for a year-and-a-half), has spent his summer in Toronto training and after taking part in the Flames prospects camp, shut it down for a few weeks. He was recovering from several injuries and has returned stronger than ever.
Being the son of a former NHL player, Tkachuk said he values his father's advice.
"He always says the same two things: 'Compete and be a good teammate. If you do that, you'll be alright,'" Tkachuk said. "He told me the summer leading up to his first NHL training camp was the hardest he has ever worked, but it put him in a position to make the team and I kind of took that as motivation."
Dvorak believes Tkachuk is headed for a long and successful professional career.
"He's one of those guys you hate to play against, but love to play with," Dvorak said. "It was great to have him on my line with [Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitchell Marner] and he's a phenomenal player. He's great in front of the net, can make plays and puck the puck in the net."
Will the NHL soon see the second coming of Keith Tkachuk?
"There are definitely a lot of similarities in our games," the younger Tkachuk said. "We're both big, strong guys who like to score goals and play around the net. We ultimately make our teammates better and he was obviously a really tough player, a really physical player and a good shooter and goal scorer. I also have that kind of multi-threat with shooting and passing and play-making."
Author: Mike Brophy | NHL.com Correspondent