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NHL Draft

Tkachuk creating own niche on potential road to NHL

Top prospect for 2018 draft stands out with speed, all-around game

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Boston University freshman forward Brady Tkachuk doesn't mind being compared to his father, Keith Tkachuk, who scored 538 goals in 18 NHL seasons, or his older brother, Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.

In fact, he says he's an amalgam of the best parts of their games, which is one of the reasons he's rated among the top prospects for the 2018 NHL Draft.

"I like to model off both," Brady (6-foot-3, 196 pounds) said. "Take a little off my dad and my brother. I don't really have anything that they don't have. My brother around the net, my dad's toughness and feistiness."

Brady does stand out in a few areas, notably his speed and all-around game. Matthew, who was selected with the No. 6 pick in 2016, said in those regards Brady, 18, is ahead of where he was at the same stage in his career.

"He's way bigger and stronger than I am," said Matthew, who was 6-1, 202 pounds when he was drafted. "Around the net we're pretty similar. He's a lot faster than I am. He's more of a threat in all areas of the game than I was. I was a little more offensive minded where he provides everything. He's tougher than I am, he's more physical than I am. From what I've seen he looks like he could be a step ahead of me."

NHL Central Scouting gave Tkachuk an A rating in its preliminary players to watch list.

"He's a pretty complete package, and I say that in the sense that he can play and be impactful in every situation, with and without the puck," Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "If you need a goal, he'll go get a goal-scoring chance. If you're protecting a lead, he'll be responsible defensively. If you need someone to go in there and maybe throw their weight around a little bit, let the other team know we're no push-arounds out there, he's a guy that steps up. He seems to rise to those occasions. That's one of the real likable things about him."

Tkachuk has nine points (goal, eight assists) in 14 games. He leads Boston University with a plus-8 rating and is tied for first with 48 shots on goal, a total that leads NCAA freshmen. He scored his first goal in a 7-0 win against Maine on Saturday but said the lack of goal scoring hadn't been bothering him. 

"The biggest thing for me is to stay calm and not get frustrated," he said. "I'd be pretty worried if I wasn't getting any chances, but every game there's chances."

Tkachuk opted for college hockey rather than follow Matthew's path to London of the Ontario Hockey League, the team that owns Brady's Canadian Hockey League rights.

Though Matthew believed the 72-game junior season would be better for his development during his draft season, Brady said college is the right route for him because of the older, more physically developed competition he's facing. BU will play 36 regular-season games, mostly on the weekends.

"I want to play against men," he said. "My goal is to make it to the NHL so that's the best route for me."

He'll also have a chance to play for the United States at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held in Buffalo from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. He made a strong first impression on the USA Hockey staff during the World Junior Summer Showcase in August with five points (one goal, four assists) in five games against Canada, Sweden and Finland.

"He plays the game at an extreme high level with energy," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "You can see as he gets stronger he's going to be a player that's not very fun to play against. He's rugged, he's going to bang around, he's got hockey sense. He's going to get better and better. He's the type of player you want to have around."

Brady watched Matthew win a bronze medal with the U.S. at the 2016 WJC, and his father won the bronze with the U.S. at the 1992 WJC. He's hoping for a chance to add to the family medal collection.

"I've definitely thought about that," Brady said. "It's a personal goal of mine. I really want to make that team and contribute to a win."

There's a lot to look forward to this season for Brady, culminating in the 2018 draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23. He said he learned a lot about how to approach the season on and off the ice from how Matthew handled things in 2016, but Matthew said he doesn't have to pass along much brotherly advice.

"Just have fun, don't be nervous," he said. "Know you're one of the best. Just go out there and play. I don't know if I have to say too much. Physically, what he looks like and from what I've seen … he's ahead of where I was. Going to be exciting to see."

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