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What Scouts Say: Matthew Tkachuk

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

There is no doubt the Calgary Flames were thrilled to land power forward Matthew Tkachuk with the sixth overall pick. The London Knights winger -- who scored the over-time game-winner to capture the Memorial Cup -- rattled off 107 points in the regular season and chipped in with a whooping 40 points in the playoffs.

"Matthew is a real hard skilled player. He plays hard in the hard areas," director of amateur scouting Tod Button explained. "We call him an ‘inside-the-dots’ player. He’s got really good hands and he can make good plays in traffic. He’s got really, really soft hands and he can make soft little passes in tight areas which is a skill in itself. But he can also play hard. He can get the shot off in traffic when guys are cross-checking him and hacking him. He’s always in the mix and always in the middle. It’s a hard game he plays. He plays hard and it’s not easy to succeed that way.

"He’s got a great compliment in the two guys he plays with but he adds a lot to that line with his physicality and creating space for those guys. You look at his overall game and you think skill up and down the ice … maybe not so much but below the dots, he can play."

Amateur scout Jim Cummins can't wait to see what Tkachuk can accomplish at the pro level.

"When you’re talking about what a first line centre really wants, you want this winger," he told CalgaryFlames.com. "This guy is a big guy. I played with his dad and I’ve known Matt since he was a little kid. He’s a power forward and he has a rare blend of hard and soft skill in tight areas and in front of the net. He plays with courage, he can distribute and finish. This guy is going to be an excellent player at the next level."

Here are what a few scouting services had to say about Tkachuk:

INTERNATIONAL SCOUTING SERVICE - RANKED 4TH OVERALL

Basically, along with Marner, Dvorak – led Knights to 2016 Memorial Cup Championship. Character kid provides leadership in the form of compete level, toughness and scoring prowess on nightly basis. He is incredibly strong down low, and is extremely difficult to knock off the puck. That along with his vision and skill set will make him an elite power forward in the NHL. Great around the net and along the boards. Very good offensive upside and always dangerous around the puck. Always in good support and knows what he will do with the puck before he gets it. Needs to work at playing a more committed defensive game and improve his play at both ends of the ice. Strong skater with very good balance however his overall quickness needs work.

NHL Potential: Top line goal scorer who is very dangerous with the puck on his stick.

Style Compares To: Andrew Ladd

FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS - RANKED 5TH OVERALL

Tkachuk, son of former NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk, is a feisty pro-style winger who goes hard to the net. He is an offence-minded winger who plays a quick-thinking, dynamic game. He is a clever winger with explosive burst who has the ability to take over a game with his play down low. Tkachuk has a tendency to go to the front of the net and around the crease, both with and without the puck, as he intelligently anticipates the puck’s movement. He has a penchant for getting to prime offensive areas thanks to his high hockey IQ and ability to squeeze through bodies to gain positioning. Tkachuk has a flair to his game, making creative and skilled passes, and has no trouble making slick moves with the puck while under pressure. Even when he is completely stretched out, he is strong on the puck, protecting it and making it difficult for defenders to knock him off it. He puts himself in the right position on his check to hold them off and when knocked down, he is quick to get back up and is more driven than before to make something happen and make the opponent pay. The winger displays a long, extremely strong northbound stride, which allows him to pick up speed with each push through the ice. Tkachuk uses his speed effectively to chase down and pressure the puck-carrier and/or get moving up. The biggest strength in his game is his vision in all areas of the ice. He can make a timely behind-the-back pass right on the tape of his teammate streaking for the net while holding off a defender’s check. He sees the whole ice and makes quick decisions on the best option after quickly evaluating and seeing the play develop. Tkachuk exploits lanes and picks his spots with near perfection. While at high speed, he still maintains possession of the puck and can do so while he makes elusive plays and power moves around defenders without slowing down. He possesses creative and fast hands as he moves to the net with a goal-scorer’s touch. Defensively, he races back on the backcheck and picks up his man, even covering up missed assignments when needed.

NHL Potential: Top-six offensive power winger

RED LINE REPORT - RANKED 4TH OVERALL

Big power winger plays with a mean, nasty edge and can be an intimidating force when he comes in on a heavy forecheck. Exerts tremendous pressure on puckhandling d-men down low and often leads to sustained, shift-long puck control in the attacking zone. Controls the play down low with his great hands and frame. Makes linemates better by creating space for them to operate and finding them with superb set-ups. Impressive mixture of size, strength, scoring touch, power skating, and puck sense. Wins all the puck battles in corners and along the walls, and comes off the walls with power moves straight to net. Always takes the most direct route from Point A to Point B. Impossible to move around the slot area and snaps off heavy wristers. At his best in the money games, and is able to elevate his play at crucial moments.

NHL Potential: Elite top line scoring winger with toughness.

Style compares to: Corey Perry

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