Perhaps the best competition begins at home. I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have a father who’s an NHL hockey player – especially one of the best power forwards in the game. But that’s what it was like for Brady Tkachuk – and, by the way, for brother Matthew as well.
Father Keith Tkachuk played 19 seasons in the NHL, beginning with the Winnipeg Jets, then moving with the team to Phoenix to play with the Coyotes, then to the St. Louis Blues, and then for the last bit of the 2006-07 season for the Atlanta Thrashers (a fact I didn’t recall until I looked it up). By the way, Keith scored 50 goals two times – in his last season with the Jets and his first with the Coyotes.
Now his two sons play in the NHL – Matthew with the Calgary Flames and Brady with the Ottawa Senators. And they are just as competitive as the Dad. In a recent News & Rumors post about the Flames, I noted that both brothers are home in St. Louis – where the Tkachuk family settled down – and they are both spending time waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic more or less beating on each other in every competitive way they can.
In his article in the Calgary Sun, reporter Wes Gilbertson enumerated the ways that the brothers were competitive. Specifically, Matthew listed the following, “It’s been pretty even so far. I would say Brady has beaten me more times in basketball out in the driveway. I think I’m probably the king of the house at pickleball right now. Brady is better at video games downstairs. We’ve been playing a bit of Kan-Jam, with the frisbee, and I would say I’m better than him at that. And I think I have him in golf. We have been playing a ton of golf, and I’ve always had the edge in golf on him. He’s gotten a lot better and he can hit it a mile now, but I think I still have the edge. But we’re really, really close in everything, and we’re thankful to have each other that we can compete with each day and each competition that we have.” (From “Competitive juices still flowing for Flames’ Tkachuk during pause,” Wes Gilbertson, Calgary Sun, 18/04/20).
Actually, if you read the paragraph above carefully, that’s a lot of competition to keep track of. But that competition extends to the ice as well – and in this post, I will talk about Brady’s growth as a second-year player with the rebuilding Ottawa Senators. Perhaps I will soon write about Matthew, but this post is about Brady.
Brady’s Growth Towards Stardom
The Senators chose Brady in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft as their first pick (fourth overall) in the draft. After two seasons in the NHL, Brady has proved to be a player a rebuilding team could actually rebuild around. Brady’s rookie season (2018-19) showed his score sheet totals to be 22 goals and 45 points in 71 games, which placed number two in NHL rookie scoring to the Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson’s 28 goals and 66 points in 71 games.
What makes Brady so special is that he’s a power forward just like his dad. Brady has proved willing to get his hands dirty, dishes the hits, and generally plays a physical style of hockey. The now-20-year-old Brady will eventually become a key part of the Senators rebuild – even if he’s not the most consistent player – at least not yet. After Brady’s strong rookie season, he followed it up in 2019-20 with an equally impressive record on the score sheet. Specifically, Bradey scored 44 points in 71 games last season and when the NHL’s suspension began on March 12, he had scored 43 points in 71 games this season.
This season, Brady started quickly – scoring the NHL’s first goal of the season on opening night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs just 25 seconds into the game. He followed up that opening-night goal by scoring his team’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in game two of the season. On Oct. 27, Tkachuk scored a goal and two assists as he led the Senators to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Games like the one against the Sharks showed the kind of player young Brady is growing into. He’s an offensive threat who plays with a physical edge that helps set a tone for his team. Still, if there’s one aspect of his game that he wants to improve it’s his consistency. It seems he’s either feast or famine: he plays really solid games interspersed with consecutive games where he doesn’t score at all.
The Problem of Being on a Rebuilding Team
Obviously, being on a rebuilding roster limits a player’s scoring prowess. For example, the Senators are dead last in the NHL in power-play percentage at only 14.2%. They are third to the last with only 30 goals in 71 games. Imagine what Brady’s scoring would be if he had a potent power play. That lack of offense impacts the total scoring statistics of its stars.
One can only guess that Tkachuk would have much higher offensive numbers on another team. The upside of playing on a rebuilding team is that you have plenty of ice time to fix mistakes and learn the game. But, sadly you’re seldom rewarded on the score sheet.
Tkachuk Plays a Physical Game
After a solid rookie season, Brady’s pushed his physical game to a higher level. Although the Senators are far from an offensive powerhouse and he doesn’t have much help offensively, he’s made many Senators fans believe he might just be THE building block for where this franchise is headed.
Brady Tkachuk is a feisty player with the talent and the drive to lead his through this rebuild. He has great potential. That wasn’t lost on those who watch the NHL. When the 2018-19 season was completed and the NHL announced its All-Rookie Team. The three Calder Trophy finalists were included (goaltender Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres, and forward Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks). Three other rookies made that team (defenseman Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars, forward Anthony Cirelli of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the young Tkachuk.
The Senators are rebuilding and Brady is one of the key building blocks of the team. Here’s believing the Senators will remain pleased they chose Tkachuk when they did.
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