Matthew Tkachuk: Calgary was ‘the place I wanted to be’

He didn’t go first overall – he went sixth. But it’s possible Matthew Tkachuk was the happiest draftee of them all when the Calgary Flames called his name. He simply could not stop gushing about how excited he was to be a Flame – and it didn’t sound quite like the things you’d expect a draft pick to say.

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“I have 80, 100 friends and family here that are so excited for me because deep down they know how much I loved Calgary, and how good of a fit it is,” Tkachuk said. He then added: “They’re smart hockey people so they know what’s good and what’s not so good, and they know Calgary is the spot to be.”

High, high praise for his new team.

“This was the team circled on my list”

Ever since the combine, Tkachuk has been all about Calgary. “I had them circled since I talked to them at the combine and visited them after the combine, and that’s the place I wanted to be and the place I’m going to have the best shot.”

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Everything about the Flames is exciting to him, from the youth on the roster to the off-season they’ve had so far, including the hiring of their new coach, Glen Gulutzan. It’s especially encouraging for Tkachuk that the Flames are such a young team, because it shows that they’re willing to give him a shot – though he knows he’ll have to earn it.

“It’s good when they give the young guys a shot, and that’s what you want,” Tkachuk said. “You want to play sooner than later, so I guess it’s a good thing. But they don’t just give you the opportunity, you have to earn it and I’m going to do everything in my power to try to earn a spot.”

As for all that youth on the team, he knows that the Flames are missing some elements in their top six, and he thinks he’s the perfect guy to fill them.

“I think they have some spots that they need to fill when it comes to a player that provides some of my strengths, and I hope to do that sooner than later. I hope to be a difference maker soon,” Tkachuk said.

He was glowing throughout his media availability, clearly impressed with Calgary’s management and the way the team is run. They left a great impression on him, so it’s easy to see why he was so happy.

While Tkachuk doesn’t know any Flames players yet, that isn’t a problem. “I’m a pretty friendly guy, so I’ll get to know them pretty well,” he said. 

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“It’s such a relief”

Before the Columbus Blue Jackets went off the board at third overall, many had Matthew Tkachuk projected to go in the fourth spot: with the Edmonton Oilers.

With both them and the Vancouver Canucks picking ahead of the Flames, you can’t help but wonder just what, exactly, Tkachuk thinks of them.

“It’s such a relief to go to a team that you want to go to,” Tkachuk said, “and it makes it that much better. Everybody says how special it is to play in the NHL, but if you really love the team that picked you, it makes it that much better, and it’s an unbelievable feeling right now.”

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Those were his exact words. He was clearly stoked about playing for Calgary – and he never mentioned Edmonton or Vancouver by name. Edmonton, however, does have a rather poor track record of the past decade or so, and Vancouver doesn’t appear to be on much of an upswing any time soon – not like Calgary appears to be.

It was noted that he didn’t seem too upset at falling in the draft – to which Tkachuk responded emphatically, “This was the team circled on my list. I wanted to go to a team that really wants you and a team that you really want to play for.”

Tkachuk also emphasized his winning mentality – something that winning the Memorial Cup no doubt bolstered. “I’ve been able to win recently, and I want to bring that mentality to the Calgary Flames.”

I got the impression that Tkachuk sees Calgary as a team with an extremely bright future on the horizon – a future he no doubt is excited to contribute to.

This and that

Tkachuk is excited to be a part of the Battle of Alberta.

“I like playing in those games, the rivalry games, the big games. I like trying to come through in those games and be a difference maker, and I hope to do that in the Battle of Alberta,” Tkachuk said. He has a sense of what it’s like to be part of a big rivalry – through the OHL, and through international competition as an American – but the NHL is on another level. “It’s going to be so fun to be a part of that rivalry.”

By playing in London this year, Tkachuk got the experience of playing in a Canadian market. He already knows what it’s like to bring a championship to such a team – and he wants to do it again with the Flames. 

Something to watch out for? Tkachuk said he played both left and right wing this past season, and he found the adjustment “pretty easy”. So will he one day be on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, or with Sam Bennett? That’s still very much up in the air. 

He also doesn’t have a preference for a number just yet – but we know he’s not getting his #7 he played with for the London Knights, that’s for sure.

  • FireScorpion

    The fact he was looking past Deadmonton and Vancouver to get to Calgary made me love this kid even more. He’s going to be just what the Doctor ordered! He already knew which side of the BOA he wanted to be on..Connor McDavid or not

    • Brent G.

      He could smell the stank of a losers mentality from miles away. You know they would find a way to screw him up just like all the others too. I wonder if Pulljarvi is disappointed by Edmonton just like McDavid was. Poor guy

      • everton fc

        If the Oilers pull off the miraculous and actually sure up the defence… They could be a very dangerous team.

        Then again, McLellan’s Sharks went to the Cup final the year after he left. I always thought he was not the right guy for that gig, or the one in Edmonton. Ditto Chiarelli. They needed a young, confident GM/coach combo like Yzerman and Cooper in Tampa, or Shero/Hynes in New Jersey. Someone looking for an opportunity, who didn’t care if it was Edmonton or Flin Flon. Eakins was also a bad choice. Jason Botterill would have been a better choice for GM in Edmonton. He seems very good at managing the cap, as well. Huge, for a team like Edmonton. And he’s an Edmontonian.

        Nugent-Hopkins will be the bait for at least one d-man. Maybe.

        But they’ll go after someone like Cam Fowler, not realizing (like Schultz) the flaws in Fowler’s game won’t help them.

  • FireScorpion

    I am so stoked right now . . . (Redacted) . . . . I love Tre, Tkachuk and the boys on roster. We are coming for the cup guy!

    FN MODERATOR: would you have really written that, if your mom was looking over you shoulder?

  • Baceda

    “It’s such a relief to go to a team that you want to go to,”

    That statement is such a diss to Vancouver and Edmonton, I love it!

    10 minutes into his career as a Flame and he’s already talking trash to our most hated rivals. The kid came to compete.

    He and Bennett are gonna be great together I think

    • I interpret his words as “Thank the hockey gods (and my dad’s influence) I escaped being drafted by Columbus, Vancouver, and Edmonton. It’s a relief Calgary selected me because I didn’t want to go to Arizona either!”

  • Franko J

    I like the fact Tkachuk has some personality. Two players who want to be here in Tkachuk and Elliott. Great character players added in the first round.

    Let’s see if Treliving can make some more moves on Saturday.

  • freethe flames

    Two things that made me think about the Flames day one draft. By acquiring Elliot it allows for cap space to sign a tandem if they are not convinced about Ortio or pursue a UFA top 6 forward.
    The other was a tweet broadcasted by Kevin Hayes to his cousin Tkachuk; maybe with any luck the Flames can get Hayes from NYR for a low cost.

    The only downside of losing 35 is there are some good players available early in the 2nd round. As said earlier hopefully BT can acquire an NHL forward or draft well.

  • Joe Flames

    His personality so far reminds me of his old man. I never really liked Keith when he was playing but he was one of those guys who you love when he is on your team.

  • Greg

    “They’re smart hockey people so they know what’s good and what’s not so good, and they know Calgary is the spot to be.”

    Given he expected to go to Edmonton or Vancouver, pretty obvious he’s insinuating every “smart hockey person” knows those are “not so good”. I vote that as the best backhanded dis. Love it.

  • Greg

    “It’s good when they give the young guys a shot, and that’s what you want,”

    Huh, that’s a change on how we’re perceived from even 4 years ago. Nice that it also came with the “they make you earn it” caveat… We’ve graduated our first rounders quickly lately, but at least haven’t been penciling 18 year olds onto the first line before they even get to the podium. Not that any team would ever do that. #hereComeTheOilers.

  • Tkachuk was not going #1 or #2. That leaves Columbus, Vancouver and Edmonton as the next potential drafters. Let’s be honest. All three of those teams have serious management issues or team issues perhaps too big for management to solve.

    Am I reading a hidden story into this? This is Keith Tkachuk’s son. Keith has connections throughout the NHL and probably some weight in certain decisions. Just like Bobby didn’t want his son Bret to be drafted by Calgary, and look what happened… an angry and sad kid had to get dealt away to where daddy wanted him to play.

    I’m thinking the Tkachuks made it clear that they didn’t want Columbus, Vancouver, or Edmonton to spoil the draft year and destination of Matthew Tkachuk.
    Al Macinnis’s tweet “You’re lucky” meant:
    You’re lucky you have a dad with some pull to get you into the organization you want.

    Congratulations Matthew Tkachuk on your successful drafting of the Calgary Flames organization! Welcome!

  • jakethesnail

    I like Tkachuk’s attitude….would be a great LW for Sam Bennett!

    Maybe he told Chia that the oilers organization sucks and Benning that the Canucks are going fast nowhere!