Matthew Tkachuk, an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's September players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, is in his first season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left wing has four goals and 17 points in nine games. He had 38 goals and 96 points in 65 games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team last season. The St. Louis native has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo. His second entry comes following a season-high four points in a 7-2 win against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Oct. 17.
It's been a great opening few weeks in London playing for Dale Hunter. He's been a great coach. He gets the best out of all of us. He takes a no-nonsense approach in the locker room and on the ice and I like the fact he doesn't dwell too much on things but just gets right to the point on what he wants and how he wants us to do it. He doesn't spend a lot of time talking about one thing. I think he's confident in that he can tell us what he wants done once and that we can go out there and execute the game plan.
I'm learning a lot having him as my coach.
I'm doing pretty well but I think we all feel the same way in that this isn't about personal success, but more team success. We all want to play our best in order for team victories and success. It was nice to get that win against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds because we were up against a fast team. It was nice to contribute with one goal and three assists. But again, it was even better that we got the win. I actually said hello to Greyhounds goalie Brandon Halverson after the game. I spent a week with Brandon in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the United States National Junior Evaluation Camp in August.
I realize the World Junior Championship is right around the corner, but that's not my focus right now. So long as I play to the best of my abilities I feel the USA Hockey coaching staff will keep me in mind. But I'm not going out there as a member of the London Knights and thinking to myself that I need to impress the USA Hockey staff because the World Junior tournament is two months away. So long as I play a good, consistent game and go 100 percent every shift, I think that's the most important thing.
Coach Hunter has been switching the lines around in the early stages of the season, I think in order to get a feel as to who works better with who. My usual center is either Christian Dvorak or Mitchell Marner, and the right wing on our line has been a number of players. I know I can go to Christian and Mitch for advice whenever I need it, but the main thing is winning. They are so focused on the team and what they need to do to lead and help accomplish our ultimate goal of winning an Ontario Hockey League championship and a Memorial Cup.
We've been involved in the Memorial Cup in previous seasons, but haven't won it since 2005, so that's the thing that really drives us as a team. It was nice to see Max Jones (top 2016 draft prospect) score his first one for London against the Greyhounds. He's been pushing hard to get that first one, so the hard work paid off.
Thanks for reading my October blog. I'll provide another update in November.
Follow Matthew Tkachuk on Twitter at: @TKACHUKycheese_