WWYD Wednesday: Keep or demote Matthew Tkachuk?

It’s almost decision time for Brad Treliving when it comes to Matthew Tkachuk.

The Flames’ 18-year-old rookie has played in six games so far, scoring a goal and an assist. If he plays in 10 NHL games, the first year of his entry level deal will be triggered, starting the clock on his artificially capped contract. 

Aside from cap concerns, there are two other considerations: can Tkachuk help the team win now and what is best for his development?

By eye, the kid hasn’t looked totally out of place in the NHL so far, though his role has been relatively marginal. His 12:11 per game average ice time so far is the fourth lowest of all skaters on the team, ahead of only Alex Chiasson, Micheal Ferland and Freddie Hamilton.

That’s not uncommon for young players just breaking into the league, of course, but if Tkachuk is going to be limited to a third or fourth line role for the season it suggests he’s not entirely essential to the team’s success. That said, if he can take a step or two forward, he could fill a much needed top six role for the club.

As for development, it’s a judgement call that can be argued both ways. Tkachuk is already pro-sized at 6’2″ and 202 lbs, so he’s physically mature enough to compete now. He also tore apart the OHL last year en route to a Memorial Cup, suggesting he has little else to prove at the junior level. 

Nevertheless, there is some question of how much Tkachuk was driving the bus for London last year since he was playing on a line with Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak. Going back for one more season will allow him to be the primary difference maker on his team from start to finish. 

Burn a year of the ELC, help the team win and personal development – how do you weigh those three factors? What would you do if you were Brad Treliving? 

  • slapshot444

    He certainly seems tough enough but after reading all the comments am I the only one who is concerned about his skating? A pretty skater he aint. When you get to the bigs I feel you either have the skating ability or you don’t, only so much a power skating coach can show you.

  • everton fc

    I’m torn.

    Our 2nd line w/Versteeg looks good. I wouldn’t put him there.

    Playing him w/Backlund and Frolik would be interesting, but he’s not that type of shut down guy, is he? And at 18??

    So… Where does he fit, this season? He’s not a 4th line player, though he’d get 10-12 minutes a night minimum playing RW there. Or does GG test him on the RW/1st line to see what happens??

    (Guess I never gave an answer, hey?! I hope he stays. But if he goes back to the “O”, I hope Shinkaruk can somehow be called up).

  • McRib

    Morgan Klimchuk had 2G, 2A tonight, watching him extensively in the WHL I have to say I never saw last year coming (only 9 Points in 55 GP), glad he has turned a corner this year and is playing up to expectations with more opportunity, a part of me wonders if he was battling minor injuries or something last year. I mean he is one pace to break last seasons point totals in only two more games.

    Daniel Pribyl had 1G, 3A tonight, if he keeps this up we might as well just send Tkachuk back to London. Haha. That said I am also not opposed to keeping Tkachuk with the Flames, as I think there are pros and cons to both options. Time will tell, one thing is certain I am glad he fell into our laps this past June and with another summer of adding more leg strength, next year he is only going to be that much better. Considering he is someone who could easily touch 30-35 points this year, I cant see him getting less than 40-45 next year and at least being a 55-60 point guy with an edge in his prime, maybe more.

    One reason I wouldn’t mind keeping Tkachuk in the NHL this year, is I wouldn’t mind keeping this AHL team together all season, as they are lookin legit and winning down in the minors won’t do anything but continue to help confidence.

  • Jakethesnail

    Go ahead and keep him , doing what you Flame fans said the Flames would not do. I guess he is better than all the other high picks so he should stay with the club for the season.
    Just because he might be the best option on the wing doesn’t mean it’s the best for him does it?

  • Arminius

    To me he hasn’t looked slow at all, (not blazing speed by any means but passable) he’s involved in the play in a big way, getting scoring chances, throwing hits and generally pissing opponents off with no fear. Last game in St. Louis he must have had 3 or 4 chances in close (assist and provided the screen on the Bennett goal) and his play down low and in front of the net is as advertised.

    Let the last third of his 9 game trial play out and see how he does. He doesn’t look out of place though..

    Oh..and there was a lot of talk in the young stars tournament and preseason that he needed to reign it in to avoid taking bad penasties. Check. That’s never once been a concern since the season opener with 6pims so far

    • Parallex

      It’s not so much that he’s “slow”, as you’ve said his overall speed is passable. But his acceleration (cruising speed is fine but the amount of time it takes him to get to that speed) is less then ideal.

      Additionally just to my eye (YMMV) it looks like he has to put more effort into it then most. More Effort = More Energy = Less Peak Performance.

  • Arminius

    He’s also doing it with not a ton of ice time. 11,12 minutes? I say play him a lot the next 3 games and see how he responds.. If they send him down I don’t think anyone will be too down about it as Shinkaruk would be able to fill the role offensively (though not as much on the gritty agitator side)..but I think he’d step up to more ice time positively

  • Randaman

    What will he actually learn in another year of Junior.

    He’s already dirty, cocky and arrogant. Seems to fit the Flame mode already.

    Maybe he could take some skating lessons on the side?