Thursday, October 6, 2016

Matthew Tkachuk Likely to Start Season with Flames

No. 6 overall pick Matthew Tkachuk will begin his NHL career when the Calgary Flames break camp next week.

“I don’t think it’s out of the realm to say that he’s going to be here for Game 1 if things are status quo,” said Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, according to Sportsnet's Erik Francis. “And we’ll play from there. You guys know the magic number so there’s no harm in that and we’ll see where it goes.”

The 18-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona native is the son of former NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk. He scored 40 points in 18 playoff games with the London Knights of the OHL last season, and in the preseason he has been a solid player for the Flames, netting two goals in for games in the preseason and regularly mixing it up in the high-rent district in front of and around the oppositions net.

The primary concern is that the 18-year-old will find himself outmatched in the strength department in those areas, but the Flames should get a good gauge on Tkachuk's ability to match muscle with the NHL's premier defenseman as the youngster goes through what is essentially a nine-game tryout at the NHL level.

“I worry about strength because he plays in those gutsy areas,” Gulutzan said. “This is still pre-season so once the season starts he’s getting [Duncan] Keith and [Brent] Seabrook and [Drew] Doughty and [Jake] Muzzin and that’s a different ball game.”