The 2016 NHL Draft is fast approaching, and following a disappointing season, the Calgary Flames hold the sixth overall pick. Taking a look at the top prospects available in this year’s draft, and especially after watching the Memorial Cup, it becomes apparent that the Flames would love to draft Matthew Tkachuk.
After an excellent performance this season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, it would be great for the organization to add such a great young winger, but the question is, will he still be available at 6th overall?
How The Calgary Flames Will Be Able To Draft Matthew Tkachuk
The consensus top three will be Auston Matthews and Finnish wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Things will get interesting after that, especially for the Flames, who will be anxiously anticipating the 4th and 5th picks, and hoping not to hear Tkachuk’s name called.
Tkachuk played on one of the best lines in junior hockey with Christian Dvorak, who is Arizona Coyotes property, and Mitch Marner, who was taken 4th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. The trio combined for 344 regular season points, leading the Knights to a dominant 51-14-3 record.
The 6’2” and 200 pound left winger scored 107 points in 57 regular season games last season before piling up an incredible 20 goals and 20 assists in just 18 playoff games in the OHL. Tkachuk then helped his team go undefeated at the Memorial Cup tournament in Red Deer, Alberta where he sniped five goals and eight points in four games, including the overtime winner in the championship game.
The son of former power forward and sniper Keith Tkachuk, Matthew is a powerful winger who has the size and plays the physical game that everyone in Calgary knows General Manager Brad Treliving and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke drool over. However, he also has the skill to make a great pass, score goals in tight, skate and play a smart defensive game as well.
He is basically the total package you would want from a player in the draft, but is it possible that he can fall to the Flames, who are slated to pick 6th?
Well, it is possible, but it might all depend on what direction that team just a few hours north of the Saddledome decides to take.
The Oilers hold the 4th overall pick and have stockpiled forwards for the past several years. With Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle up front, the Oilers main need this summer is to upgrade their defense.
There are two options for the Oilers to upgrade their blueline from the 4th selection. One of them will lead Tkachuk to fall as far as 6th in the draft, while the other option leaves no possibility for the Flames to land Tkachuk.
If the Oilers decide to keep the pick and take a defenseman, they would add an excellent prospect, and would probably decide on Tkachuk’s teammate Olli Juolevi, who also had a great year for the Knights. He scored 42 points in 57 games from the blueline, and displayed the passing and skating that all good defenders need in today’s NHL.
However, if the Oilers decide to trade the pick, whoever makes the deal would be interested in Tkachuk. The Battle of Alberta has gone cool over the past decade or two, and the two teams have made minor swaps, but there is a big difference between sending Ladislav Smid or Steve Staios to your rival, and allowing them to move up and grab a player like Tkachuk.
A flip of the 4th and 6th picks would make sense on the surface, as the Flames would get exactly what they need, and the Oilers would still land either Juolevi or Jakob Chychrun, but it is extremely unlikely the Oilers are going to allow the Flames to move up to the 4th slot.
If the Oilers do keep the pick and select Juolevi, that leaves only the Vancouver Canucks between the Flames and Tkachuk. Another rival who would be unlikely to help out the Flames by making a swap, but then again it’s the Canucks, maybe Brandon Bollig and Joe Colborne gets the 5th pick straight up?
Okay, maybe not.
But the Canucks are already on the record as saying they love Pierre-Luc Dubois and are also looking to upgrade their defense, which they want to be more physical. Mikhail Sergachev is a big blueliner who is dubbed “the most NHL ready” after the top three players. It’s very possible that if the Oilers pass on Tkachuk, the Canucks could go in another direction as well.
That would leave the Flames in the best case scenario. Taking a physical, two-way left winger would be a perfect fit for Calgary. Having Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line, followed by Tkachuk and Sam Bennett on another would make for matchup nightmares for opponents for many years to come.
It is a plan that could become a reality for the Flames in just a few weeks. All it will take is the Flames biggest rivals to play along.