Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#4. Matthew Tkachuk – LW, London (OHL)
Tkachuk has the attractive blend of high-end skill and a tenacious attitude that any organization would covet. The son of American hockey legend Keith, who piled up 538 goals during his NHL career, Tkachuk in many ways shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree while rounding out his game with a few unique touches.
Clocking in at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Tkachuk plays a power forward's game. Where he differentiates himself from most of that ilk is his tremendous vision and passing ability.
He’s very good at making tough passes, especially following grunt work behind the net and along the walls, at times making you think that he has eyes in the back of his head. If there is one distinct difference between Mathew and his father, it’s that the younger Tkachuk tends to shoot less.
In terms of succeeding in small areas like his father did, Tkachuk is amongst the best in the class. He demonstrates excellent hand-to-eye coordination from the hash marks down, and his grittiness and determination often see him spinning from beneath the goal line to jam a puck at the goal area.
When there is a flurry of activity around the net, it’s no shock to see Tkachuk emerge from the scrum after the whistle.
The total package saw Tkachuk make an easy transition from the U.S. National Team Development Program to the Ontario Hockey League, racking up 30 goals and 107 points with the London Knights before putting an exclamation point on his season with 20 goals and 40 points in 18 playoff contests and the overtime winner in the Memorial Cup Championship game.
Detractors suggest that Tkachuk’s lack of high-end speed will hold him back at the next level, but it’s just as easy to see him succeeding due to his strength on his skates and history of keeping up with skilled linemates on the rush.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).