Matthew Tkachuk, an 'A' rated skater on NHL Central's preliminary players to watch list for the 2016 NHL Draft, will enter his first season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left wing had 38 goals and 96 points in 65 games with USA Hockey's Under-18 National Team Development Program last season. The St. Louis native has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, N.Y. His first entry comes after the CCM/USA All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo on Sept. 24. Tkachuk had one goal and two assists in a 6-4 loss.
The All-American Prospects Game was a very exciting event. It was the best of the American-born players this draft year and I was able to see a lot of familiar faces from the National Team Development Program and those youth hockey leagues from across the United States who I played against my whole life.
My father (U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk) didn't have to say much to me prior to the game. He just told me to compete and be a good teammate. He told me to just show everybody how competitive I am and that I'm willing to win by making sure I play both ends of the ice.
The biggest thing I took from the game was that there are a lot of great players in this country. We're doing a great job producing young talent and there's going to be more and more kids playing in the NHL from the U.S. down the road.
In my mind, I'm not thinking about how high I can go in the NHL Draft. I'm just out to prove to my teammates, myself, my parents and everybody else that I can play in the NHL.
I'll be joining my teammates in London on Friday for our home opener and am looking forward to that. There were five players at the All-American Prospects Game who will be playing for the Knights and that speaks highly of the great job that organization has done the past few years in bringing in good young talent. All the kids just want to go to London to play and I'm just looking forward to seeing what the season has in store for us.
It was too bad Auston Matthews couldn't play in the All-American Prospects Game since he is a very good prospect. But I actually text with him quite a bit. He's doing very well in Switzerland and has even scored a few goals already; that's great to see. He works so hard and he's deserving of everything he'll get.
One of my main goals this year is to earn a roster spot for the United States at the World Junior Championship [in Finland]. I want to be a big part of that team and win gold there. I love playing for my country and it would be a huge honor to be able to make that team. But right now I'm focusing on the home game in London [against Hamilton], and we'll go from there.
Thanks for reading my initial blog for NHL.com. Check back each month!
Follow Matthew Tkachuk on Twitter at: @TKACHUKycheese_