Calgary Flames Rookie Matthew Tkachuk Is Settling Right In

Oct 18, 2016; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) passes pucks during the warmup period against Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk has been fitting in quite nicely with the team. But just how well is he settling in?

The Calgary Flames picked up Matthew Tkachuk with a steal of a pick with the sixth overall pick at the 2016 NHL draft. And he’s been proving more and more each day how he’s fitting right in at the NHL level. But just how well is he fitting in?

Well, according to the team, he fits right in. Head coach Glen Gulutzan is always boasting about the youngster and has said, “He’s bold, but he’s not cocky. If you spend any time around the kid, you realize he’s very humble. But he’s a competitor and confident in his game.”

Teammate Dennis Wideman actually played with his dad, Keith Tkachuk, back with the St. Louis Blues. Wideman is in fact the only player to have played with both Keith and Matthew Tkachuk.

Via ESPN:

“Keith Tkachuk was a pretty vocal guy, and he would definitely let you know if he didn’t like something you were doing, that’s for sure,” Wideman said with a smile.

“A little bit,” said Wideman, grinning again, when asked if he’s repaying the favor to the next-generation Tkachuk. “But he’s playing well for us. We ride him a little bit just to keep him low. But he’s a real good kid. There’s not much you have to say to him.”

Matthew Tkachuk smiles at the thought that Wideman has been a teammate to both his dad and now him. What are the odds?

“It’s crazy when you think about it like that,” said Tkachuk, 19, at the thought that Wideman has been a teammate to both his dad and now him. What are the odds? “He’s got some good stories about my dad. And I’ve got some good stories about Dennis, so maybe Wides will have a kid and I’ll play with him.”

Talk about the circle of life, hey?

Matthew still playing his own game

As much as people compare Matthew to his father’s play, he says he’s still playing his own game. He has definitely proved his game as a second line winger alongside Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund, as the 3M line.

He right now has 33 points in 51 games which is fourth highest on the team. At one point, he was even on a nine-game point streak, which is the highest among any rookie this season. His nine-game point streak was the longest point streak by any Flames rookie since Joe Nieuwendyk in 1987-88. He is currently tied in fifth for points among rookies and is tied for second for assists among rookies with 23.

He is putting up a decent amount of points and is projected right now at earning around 50 points. But that number changes every day, basically.

But even with being a decently high-scoring forward, considering that he’s a rookie and nobody quite expected him to put up a whole lot of points this season, and definitely didn’t expect him to be on the Flames most dangerous line, the 3M line, he is still a bit of a “tough guy”.

Via the Globe and Mail:

“I wasn’t sure if he’d play on our team when we drafted him,” Gulutzan acknowledged. “He was a young player. We just wanted to see how he did at camp. But two things have allowed him to have success. One, his compete level is off the charts. Two, his hockey IQ is off the charts. And the best part of that is, the physical side is going to come. He’s got the frame. He’s got the size. He just needs to train like a pro for the next two or three years.”

Clearly, the Flames coaching staff and management have a lot of confidence in this kid’s future.

And normally, when you have a high scoring forward, they generally stay calm and out of the penalty box. Right?

Well, usually. But not Matthew Tkachuk.

Tkachuk is right now leading all rookies with 92 PIM. The second highest among rookies? 47 PIM. It’s also the highest on the team. The second highest is Deryk Engelland who has almost 30 PIM less than him. And Engelland is known for having that enforcer type role.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Calgary Flames

In the entire league, Tkachuk is second overall for highest amount of PIM and leading the league in minor penalties with 30 of them. Tkachuk may be young and new to the NHL, but he’s not afraid of anybody. You’re known in the NHL for being a fighter? Good, he’ll take that as a challenge.

Hm, I think there was another player who became an elite power-forward but still liked to get into fights whenever he can. I can’t quite put my finger on who, though…

Like father, like son?

Even though Matthew is forming his own game, you can’t help but notice the similarities with his father. Like, it’s creepy how alike they are.

First, we have Tkachuk’s play who is extremely similar to that of his father’s. In Keith Tkachuk’s first season with the Winnipeg Jets in 1991-1992, he didn’t play a full season, so that’s not quite fair to compare that so we’ll compare his first full season. He played 83 games with the Jets and earned 51 points (This was when there were 84 games in a season). He also had 201 PIM in that season.

Something that people see in Matt that’s like his father is his fearlessness to always get into scrums and being a hard-hitting forward, while also being an elite power forward at the same time. And with Matt potentially earning 50 points in his rookie season, there is definitely huge potential for that as well.

Secondly, like I said, in Keith’s first full season, he had 51 points. How weird and creepy would it be if Matt also got 51 points this season? I almost want that to happen because of how eerily weird that is. I mean, people always mention how similar his play is to that of his father’s but nobody expected him to be EXACTLY like his father.

But being in the NHL isn’t the first time he’s been compared (rightfully so) to his dad.

Via NHL.com back in October of 2015:

“He looked like his old man out there,” U.S. national junior coach Ron Wilson said. “He has a nose for the net and fights and claws to get there; he’s tenacious, just like his dad.”

Jim Johannson, who serves as general manager for the U.S. national junior team, agreed.

“He’s got a wonderful game down low,” Johannson said. “He’s an agitator and a guy who’s at the net, but who also has a really good stick and good hands as a scorer and playmaker. He also plays well in traffic and knows how to battle below the circles to create offensive opportunities.”

Keith Tkachuk was known around the league as being an elite power forward while still being a fighter, which you don’t see a whole lot anymore, like I mentioned earlier. And people see that same potential in his son Matt.

He may not be that elite forward yet, but he just turned 19 and it’s his first season in the NHL. I have no doubt in my mind he will be that power forward Flames fans want from him.

And he’ll continue to prove why he was a steal of a sixth-pick.

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