This coming May is the 40th anniversary of the Atlanta Flames moving to Calgary. To commemorate this occasion, we’re counting down the Top 40 Calgary Flames in history.
Coming in at #34 is the first current Flame on the list, Matthew Tkachuk.
Drafted by the Flames in 2016, Tkachuk turned a lot of heads when he made the team out of training camp. He finished seventh in Calder voting, but his feud with Drew Doughty (and a couple short suspensions) created a notorious reputation for him – one that’s only been cemented with his subsequent feud with Edmonton forward Zach Kassian.
While there will likely always be some level of debate about Tkachuk’s antics on the ice, it’s hard to argue that he’s not effective. By his second season he landed on the Flames’ second line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik – Frolik was eventually replaced by Andrew Mangapane later on – and had to perform a shutdown role. Not only was Tkachuk able to perform that role well, but he also managed three consecutive 20+ goal seasons despite some very tough assignments.
Tkachuk is a pain in the butt to play against, and he’s managed to get smarter. His borderline plays are fewer and further between – and the plays are much more obviously borderline rather than occasionally flagrant.
At the ripe old age of 22, Tkachuk has become the heartbeat of the Flames and arguably their most versatile, important player. He’s signed through 2021-22 (at which point he’ll be a restricted free agent).
Few players have become as synonymous with the Flames franchise in so short a time as Tkachuk. That’s what clocks him in at #34.
Arrival: Selected in the first round, 6th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft (June 24, 2016)