Generally speaking, top picks make the immediate jump to the NHL, but the dilemmas get more interesting as you go down the ranks.
The Calgary Flames nabbed quite the nice find by selecting Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall in 2016, and apparently they want to keep him around for a while.
Management didn’t outright guarantee that the rookie would begin the 2016-17 season with the big team, but in coach-speak terms, it sounded highly likely.
“I don’t think it’s out of the realm to say he’s going to be here for Game 1 if things are status quo,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said, according to Aaron Vickers of the team site.
Gulutzan used more words to give Tkachuk a thumbs up while also leaving room to wiggle out of the situation, if you’re a fan of slightly amusing coaching phrasing.
As nice as it would be for the 18-year-old to get some NHL experience, playing the first game isn’t the true test. Tkachuk would burn a year off of his entry-level contract if he reaches the 10-game threshold, so that would be another situation to watch if he makes a strong impression.
The Flames are in an interesting spot as far as their outlook goes.
Despite missing the postseason, the team is spending quite a bit on its roster, especially if you pencil Johnny Gaudreau in for a significant chunk of the Flames’ remaining cap space. Troy Brouwer‘s contract, in particular, points to at least a partial win-now mentality.
If Tkachuk seems like a legitimate NHL player right away, Calgary might be willing to push him closer to his second contract in order to chase a playoff berth.
Keith’s talented son should make the Flames that much more fun to watch, whether it’s from one to nine regular season games or for the entire season.
MORE: Looking to make the leap