Conroy: Tkachuk’s ‘mindset is to make the Flames’

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Matthew Tkachuk, taken sixth overall by Calgary at this year’s draft, was supposed to partake in the U.S. national junior team development camp, currently underway in Plymouth.

But he’s not.

Instead, Tkachuk is taking the camp off to rest, after playing through an injured ankle for the Memorial Cup-winning London Knights this past spring. The absence shouldn’t hurt his chances of making the junior team — Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy said it was “kind of the plan” for Tkachuk to skip — but something else might prevent him from representing the U.S. this winter:

The NHL.

It’s hard not to look at the 18-year-old’s decision to rest up his body as a sign that he’s gunning to crack the Flames roster out of training camp this fall.

Conroy all but confirmed as much to the Calgary Sun.

“You talk to [Tkachuk] right now and his mindset is to make the [Flames],” he explained. “And that’s what we’ve always said … just like with [Sean] Monahan.

“He came in and played great and then he was on the team. He took it out of our hands. That is his mindset and that was Monny’s mindset too.”

Monahan wasn’t supposed to make the Flames two years ago, but did, and played exceptionally well, finishing second on the team in scoring as a 19-year-old.

And it sure sounds like Calgary’s as high on Tkachuk as it was on Monahan (and Sam Bennett, who also debuted in his draft year).

The team wasted little time signing Tkachuk to an entry-level deal, and president Brian Burke suggested the rugged power forward had attributes the Flames could use right now.

“Kid’s a kind of pain in the ass,” said Burke, per the Calgary Herald. “We don’t have enough guys who are pains in the ass. And the way I like to play, I like guys who are pains in the ass.

“So, I thought that was a real important pick for us.”