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Photo Credit: Rena Laverty/USA Hockey

CANUCKSARMY’S 2018 NHL DRAFT RANKINGS: #9 Brady Tkachuk

We’ve officially reached the point in our rankings where the lines separating one player from another become razor thin. As we round the corner past the top 20 and into the top 10, it’s no longer a question of whether or not a player is worthy of selection. Every player profiled from here on out is a fantastic prospect, likely with an NHL future in front of them. In this draft, there are basically three tiers in the top ten: the elite players, the guys we like a lot, and the guys we like a little less. Somewhat controversially, Brady Tkachuk is a guy we like a little less. He’s got an enviable set of tools, and scouts love him, but there are also some things in his profile that register as head-scratchers at best and red flags at worst. Because there’s a level of uncertainty that comes attached to Brady Tkachuk, he comes in at number 9 on our yearly rankings.

Bio

  • Age/Birthplace: 17.99 / September 16, 1999
  • Birthplace: St. Louis, MO, USA
  • Frame: 6’3″/ 196 lbs
  • Position: C
  • Handedness: L
  • Draft Year Team: Boston University (NCAA)

Stats

Career

2017-18 Season

GP G A P SEAL INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 eP160 Sh/Gp Sh% GF% GF%rel GD60rel XLS% XPR xVAL
40 8 23 31 1.18 25% 20% 1.76 3.28 6% 65.3% 13.8% 1.4 37% 40.6 3.5

Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)

Team Relative

 

Cohort Based

 

Our Take

It’s easy to see why scouts love Tkachuk. While he lacks any one elite skill, he does everything well and always looks engaged. He’s not the most dynamic skater but he has good straight-line speed that he can match with his puck-handling skills. His shot is better than his counting stats suggest amen he’d likely have a few more goals to his credit if he hadn’t experienced some bad luck which resulted in a paltry shooting percentage of 6%. Like his brother, he’s more of a playmaker than a shooter, and he can thread cross-ice passes through traffic with regularity. His biggest asset is how he can use his size and power to create space. He doesn’t just skate around defenders, he skates through them, too. How much that ability translates to the NHL remains to be seen, but it certainly catches the eye at the college level. He’s also one of the best two-way players in the draft, as evidenced by the massive effect he’s had on his teammates goal-differential.

There are two issues that arise with Tkachuk. The first is that he was pushed to wing in his freshman year in college and it’s unclear if he really projects as the centre he’s listed as. The second, and more important concern is that he hasn’t flashed high-end skill despite being the oldest first-time eligible player in this year’s class (he missed the cut-off for last year’s draft by a single day). When looking at his development, it’s as fair to compare him to prospects from the 2017 draft as it is to compare him to his fellow 2018-eligibles.

Unfortunately, even for a young player in college, Tkachuk’s numbers don’t stand out among his peers. Shane Bowers, for instance, is just over a month older than Tkachuk and they put up remarkably similar numbers. Even the most optimistic of projections see Bowers as a likely middle-six player and he went 28th overall in the 2017 draft, far lower than where Tkachuk is ranked. Fellow 2018-eligible Quinn Hughes can also lend perspective to Tkachuk’s season. He’s a month younger, 5 inches shorter, and plays defense, but scored just two less points than Tkachuk in three fewer games. If the excuse is that it’s hard to put up numbers in college, I’m not buying it. A player who’s projected by some to go in the top three simply needs to impress more.

Despite clocking in at number four in the consolidated draft rankings, there isn’t a meaningful statistical category where Tkachuk has separated himself from the pack. When viewed through the lens of draft analytics, Tkachuk ranks in the bottom half of the first round or lower in expected likelihood of success; expected production; expected value; and situation, era, age, and league adjusted scoring.

Player XLS% XPR xVAL SEAL
Brady Tkachuk 30th 37th 30 16th

While pGPS likely undersells Tkachuk to some extent, (he’s a virtual lock to be full-time NHLer as soon as next year,) it’s handle on his upside appears dead-on. Both statistically and by the eye-test, Tkachuk looks like a better bet to play in a team’s middle-six than to be a high-end driver of offence.

Tkachuk’s list of statistical matches is littered with nice pieces like Drew Stafford, Riley Nash, and Chris Kreider; but they”re not exactly the kind of players you build a team around. Even Ryan Kesler and Kyle Turris would probably be best classified as very good second-line centres on a contending team. The one exception that’s bound to give everyone pause is Brady’s dad Keith. If he’s the second coming of his dad, that would really be something. That matter is far from settled, however.

The other comparison that’s arisen over the course of his draft year is his brother, Matthew. Like his brother, Matthew was also the subject of some (in my opinion unearned) skepticism from the analytics community who went on to make the Flames out of camp and has had an impressive start to his NHL career. Brady, to his credit, has been called bigger, faster, and nastier than his brother not once, but twice in the national media. What he hasn’t proven is that he’s more talented. Even dating back to his time with the USNTDP, Matthew was a far, far more prolific offensive contributor; albeit with better linemates.

This isn’t to say Tkachuk isn’t a good prospect. There’s a reason scouts are so high on him, and even we had to admit his inputs were strong enough to land him in the top ten. His status as the ninth best prospect in this year’s crop says more about the players ahead of him than it does about Tkachuk. Every single player in the 1-8 slot has the potential to be a very good first-line forward or first-pairing defenceman. We can’t say the same with any level of certainty for Tkachuk- yet. Now it’s up to him to prove the doubters wrong, like his brother and father before him.

Further Reading

Consolidated Average Future Considerations Hockey Prospect.com ISS Hockey McKeen’s The Athletic TSN Bob McKenzie TSN Craig Button The Hockey News Sportsnet ESPN Dobber Prospects
4 5.1 4 5 4 5 $$ 4 2 3 4 4 9

 

From Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects:

“The elder statesman of the 2018 crop missed last year’s draft by a single day. That should and will factor into his evaluation. Had an adequate season as one of the younger players in the NCAA, but his lights out World Junior showing moved the needle for many. His hands are soft, his shot his heavy and he plays an abrasive, pro-style game.”

CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings

#10 Adam Boqvist
#11 Isac Lundestrom #12 Noah Dobson #13 Joseph Veleno
#14 Joel Farabee #15 AKIL THOMAS #16 RYAN MERKLEY
#17 BARRETT HAYTON #18 Rasmus Kupari #19 RYAN MCLEOD
#20 JONATAN BERGGREN #21 VITALI KRAVTSOV #22 ALEXANDER ALEXEYEV
#23 CALEN ADDISON #24 DOMINIK BOKK #25 SERRON NOEL
#26 MARTIN KAUT #27 DAVID GUSTAFSSON #28 JAKE WISE
#29 BODE WILDE #30 RASMUS SANDIN #31 COLE FONSTAD
#32 JETT WOO #33 ALLAN MCSHANE #34 K’ANDRE MILLER
#35 JACOB OLOFSSON #36 NATHAN DUNKLEY #37 NILS LUNDKVIST
#38 JONATHAN GRUDEN #39 FILIP HALLANDER #40 JARED MCISAAC
#41 Nicolas Beaudin #42 Jack McBain #43 Ty Dellandrea
#44 Jesse Ylonen #45 Mattias Samuelsson #46 Jonny Tychonick
#47 Niklas Nordgren #48 Aidan Dudas #49 GRIGORI DENISENKO
#50 KYLE TOPPING #51 BLADE JENKINS #52 SEAN DURZI
#53 JACK DRURY #54 JAKUB LAUKO #55 JACOB RAGNARSSON
#56 ANDERSON MACDONALD #57 ADAM GINNING #58 FILIP KRAL
#59 Albin Eriksson # 60 Adam Samuelsson #61 Cameron Hillis
#62 Philipp Kurashev #63 BLAKE MCLAUGHLIN #64 MARCUS WESTFELT
#65 MILOS ROMAN #66 OSKAR BACK #67 GABRIEL FORTIER
#68 RILEY SUTTER #69 YEGOR SOKOLOV #70 ALEXANDER KHOVANOV
#71 CURTIS DOUGLAS #72 BENOIT-OLIVIER GROULX #73 SAMPO RANTA
#74 MARCUS KARLBERG #75 AXEL ANDERSSON #76 DAVID LILJA
#77 KODY CLARK #78 DMITRY ZAVGORODNY #79 LINUS NYMAN
#80 LIAM FOUDY #81 LINUS KARLSSON #82 Jachym Kondelik
#83 SCOTT PERNOVICH #84 G JAKUB SKAREK #85 TY EMBERSON
#86 JAY O’BRIEN #87 CARL WASSENIUS #88 VLADISLAV KOTKOV
#89 EMIL WESTERLUND #90 JERRY TURKULAINEN #91 STANISLAV DEMIN
#92 TYLER MADDEN #93 JAN JENIK #94 G OLIVIER RODRIGUE
#95 XAVIER BERNARD #96 KRISTIAN TANUS #97 LUKAS WERNBLOM
#98 NANDO EGGENBERGER #99 MATTHEW STRUTHERS #100 SHAWN BOURDIAS

 

  • Rodeobill

    Like it is said, all the stats point at this guy being placed too high and I agree, but I also suffer from “not-buyer’s remorse” with his brother and I fear the face palming of passing him over and having him turn out to be a key piece of some team going forward, but rational decisions can not be based on these types of considerations.

  • “When viewed through the lens of draft analytics, Tkachuk ranks in the bottom half of the first round or lower in expected likelihood of success; expected production; expected value; and situation, era, age, and league adjusted scoring.”

    Ignore analytics when it’s Tkachuk, showcase as many bad metrics when it’s Sutter? Such hypocrisy!

    • tyhee

      In the cases of both Tkachuk and Sutter, CA evaluates the player as being better than analytics would suggest, but they do take the numbers into account in lowering their assessments from what the numbers themselves would indicate.

      While I think you’re right that CA has used other factors to bump up Tkachuk’s value compared with what analytics would say, they’ve only bumped it up from bottom half of the 1st round to # 9 overall. That’s still lower than what they show as the consolidated ranking (#4) or average ranking (#5), Future Considerations and ISS Hockey (each #4) and McKeen’s and Hockey Prospects (each have him at #5.)

      So CA has perhaps paid more attention than others to analytics on Tkachuk.

      Sutter’s a bit of a lightning rod for analytics. His zone starts, QOC and QOT make it hard to know how much to adjust the raw numbers.

      If I remember correctly CA treats him as a fairly solid 3rd line forward, which is lower than the value Canucks’ management placed on him going by what they gave up to get him, what they pay him and the statement that he’s a foundational piece. However, if one went by raw analytics alone Sutter’s value would be much lower than that-for instance, his -7.6 FF%Rel would place him below replacement level and suggest he belongs in the AHL. Nobody at CA has used analytics to suggest he’s anything like that.

      I see CA lowering Sutter’s value based on analytics, but not nearly so far as the analytics themselves would suggest. They’ve treated Tkachuk in similar fashion-the numbers alone would place Tkachuk lower on the list, somewhere between 16th (his SEAL ranking) and 37th (XPR.)

  • truthseeker

    “If the excuse is that it’s hard to put up numbers in college, I’m not buying it. A player who’s projected by some to go in the top three simply needs to impress more.”

    Exactly what I’ve been saying. Seems like there are a lot of these guys who get top 10 hype but you look at their numbers and they are pedestrian.

    Pass on all those types. Take the guys who are actually getting it done.

  • Holly Wood

    Tkachuk will be real hard to pass on, but he could be the guy that drops like a stone in the draft. The fact that he is a winger while there will be some good D available I believe Benning will pass on him, having said that he becomes a good middle 6 guy who is a pain in the ass to play against