Brady Tkachuk has a rare combination of size, meanness, and offensive ability that has made scouts salivate for a couple of seasons now. His bloodlines have also helped in that he is the son of USA Hockey Hall of fame power forward Keith Tkachuk and the younger brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.
The 2018 World Junior Championships was the international coming out party for Brady. Of the 2018 eligible prospects at the World Junior Championship, Tkachuk was among the leaders in points scoring three goals and six assists in seven games played, helping Team USA to win a bronze medal.
Tkachuk also displays a highly coveted character trait, leadership qualities. He was named captain for Team USA at the U18 tournament in April 2017. While there, he scored a goal and six assists in seven games, helping the US capture gold.
This season has seen Tkachuk choose the NCAA route, where he currently plays for Boston University. He had a slow start to the season, not scoring his first goal until December 1st, but after a brief adjustment period playing against older competition, he has found his stride.
Tkachuk has scored seven goals and 14 assists through his first 26 games played while minimizing his penalty minutes. This is impressive considering he plays on a Terriers team struggling to live up to expectations after losing several high profile players to the pro game in the off-season.
Tkachuk has been on the Rocket Sports radar for quite some time given our coverage of USA Hockey being credentialed for the All-American Prospects game, the World Junior Hockey Championships and the World Junior Summer Showcase.
Brady plays a power forward game similar to his father and brother. He uses his size effectively, while he plays a physical game, Brady does display exceptional vision and hockey sense.
Tkachuk has good agility and a strong stride with a natural ability to pivot and change direction sharply at top speed. This makes him highly mobile and difficult to defend. Combined with his reach and strength, Tkachuk is a tough customer to knock off of the puck.
Brady is also tenacious. He wants to control possession, and when he does he displays a deceivingly soft touch with the puck. Defenders know when he is on the forecheck as he is consistently using his large frame to punish them in the corners and gain possession. This aspect of his game also makes him ideal to generate the cycle.
His work on the cycle combined with his maneuverability and skill makes him a type of player the Canadiens haven’t had in many years. Using his aggressive style, he’s able to create open ice for his teammates who can benefit from his excellent playmaking skills to set up for a scoring chance, or, Brady can release a very heavy and accurate shot. This ability keeps defenders guessing, and makes him extremely difficult to deal with in the offensive zone.
Tkachuk, like his father, also has agitator qualities with a mean streak. He has worked very hard this season to be much more disciplined in his application of that aspect of his game so as to avoid taking too many penalties with only 34 penalty minutes in 26 games played. This is down from his 129 penalty minutes in 61 games played with the US National program the season before.
If the Canadiens were to draft him he should provide some of the same qualities Brendan Gallagher thrives with but in a much larger frame and considerably more skill.
Tkachuk is a complete package. He plays with snarl, but can also provide high end offensive abilities with that style. Brady is also reliable in all situations. He is lethal on the power play creating havoc in front of the net, yet his mature defensive game makes him a solid penalty killer as well.
While he is also listed as a center, he has played on the wing for the most part this season and projects as a likely top line winger that will realistically be chosen in the top-5 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His size and mature game make me think that it is possible that he could be NHL-ready as soon as next season, which can only improve his draft stock.
With the Canadiens looking like they will select in the top five there is no reason to think Brady Tkachuk won’t be a prime target for Marc Bergevin at the draft table this summer.