It seems like every year there are players that are relatively close in performance, but some get more media attention than others. Some of it has to do with playing in a bigger market than others. Some of it has to do with how many of their points are highlight real plays. Some of it also could be because some players come into a season with more hype than others.
Like most seasons, there are quite a few rookies that have made headlines so far this season. #1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin has played a big role in Buffalo’s record so far this season. Jesperi Kotkaniemi has made a lot of headlines in Montreal and throughout the league after surprising people and making the team out of camp. And obviously, everyone knows how brilliant Elias Pettersson has been with Vancouver so far this season. What a lot of people might not know however is how truly great Brady Tkachuk has been in Ottawa this season.
Tkachuk came into his draft and rookie season under the hype of the top 2 picks Dahlin and Svechnikov. A lot of fans wanted guys like Zadina and Hughes at the time and not a lot of people really knew what to expect of Tkachuk this season. He also missed 11 games due to injury earlier in the season which doesn’t help to get recognition either. But with 9 goals and 16 points in 18 games this season, he is already showing that he’s a force to be reckoned with in this league. Coming in under big names like Dahlin and having Pettersson grab most of the media attention, it’s easy to forget about great Tkachuk has been. But he’s been just as good this season, and he deserves more recognition for the Calder Trophy than he’s gotten.
Tkachuk doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game, he is fairly well rounded already. He is a big body who can skate, make plays and get under the opponent’s skin. His hands are something that stands out at you, especially in and around the net. At 19 years old, he’s already become one of if not the best net-front player in the league. From @ThePointHockey on Twitter, 8 of his 9 goals (89%) so far this season have come from the inner slot, significantly higher than the league average of 54%. His ability to pick up rebounds and create chances for his teammates has been the thing that has impressed me the most about his game. Using his size to his advantage and having the IQ to be in the right spots at the right time is a great skill set to have.
For a team like Ottawa that has struggled significantly in the possession department, Brady Tkachuk’s possession numbers have been good at 5v5. The Senators out shoot, out score and out chance the opposition when he’s on the ice and they are a much better team with him on the ice compared to when he’s not.
51.92 CF% (Shot Attempts) 50.64 SF% (Shots) 55.50 SCF% (Scoring Chances) 55.56 GF% (Goals)
40.31 CF% 43.02 SF% 41.94 SCF% 47.15 GF%
There are several rookies that have played very well this season and a lot of them will deserve to be nominated by seasons end. We can look on defense as well behind Dahlin as Henri Jokiharju with Chicago and Miro Heiskanen with Dallas have both been very good this season, both averaging over 20 minutes a night. Jokiharju has been a bright spot this season on a miserable Chicago team and Heiskanen has had to take on much more responsibility with Klingberg injured and is handling it well. But what Brady Tkachuk has been able to do this season on a Senators team that has struggled in many areas this season is impressive. How he’s impacted the game and his team offensively and defensively is something that not a lot of rookies can do at that age. Most people would say that Pettersson is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year and I would probably agree with them. But if Tkachuk keeps this up all season, don’t sleep on him potentially closing the gap.