WASHINGTON — At the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo last weekend, Brady Tkachuk showed off his strength and competitive spirit by performing 11 pull-ups in 45 teeth-gnashing seconds. If you were a scout, it was as good a sign as any that the 18-year-old has a body that is more than ready for the NHL.
But they weren’t the only ones that came away impressed.
The NHL’s official Twitter account posted a video of Tkachuk’s feat, tagging his brother Matthew with the question: think you can do more?
“Absolutely not,” Matthew, the Calgary Flames forward, responded.
“He didn’t do it, because he had a sprained ankle, so he didn’t test at all,” Brady said of his older brother’s combine experience two years ago. “But I know he’d be in the five to six range. Maybe.”
That last part was yet another dig at his older brother, who could also become a future opponent as early as next season. When that happens, expect a rivalry that has been forged on the driveway basketball court and at the rink when their dad was playing in the NHL to continue.
“Oh yeah, there was a bunch of fights,” said Brady, who along with six other top prospects was invited to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final at Capital One Arena. “A bunch of witnesses to that. We were doing it in the locker room and in the wives’ room when my dad was playing. We weren’t afraid to fight.
“After the game, we’d get mini-sticks and we’d be in the wives’ room, so the wives would be hanging out, just talking to one another, and we’d get a two-on-two game going. I got hit from behind once and I think we fought after that.”
If you think this is a case of kids being kids, think again.
The brothers were home last month for Mother’s Day and decided to step outside to shoot some hoops. Before you knew it …
“It got pretty physical,” Brady said, laughing. “No fights, so that was good. But we always competed, ever since we were little.”
Consider it a taste of things to come. Like their father, Keith, who scored 1,065 points and accumulated 2,219 penalty minutes in 1,201 games, Matthew and Brady know how to play one way: physical.
Matthew is a six-foot-two and 202-pound power forward who was drafted sixth overall by the Flames in 2016. In two years, he’s already developed a reputation and a rap sheet as one of the biggest pests in the NHL.
As a rookie, he was suspended for two games for delivering an elbow to the head of Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. This year, he received a pair of one-game suspensions for unsportsmanlike conduct — he speared Toronto’s Matt Martin while behind the bench and slashed Detroit’s Luke Witkowski as he exited the ice — and also drew the ire of Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, who took a four-game suspension for cross-checking Tkachuk in the face.
And Brady is the one who is bigger and stronger.
“I mean, we’ll see, hopefully when I get there,” Brady said. “I think my family thinks I’m tougher than him and Matthew’s not messing with me anymore, so if that’s a mark, I’ll have to deal with it. Just try to play my game.”
Brady, who is already six-foot-three and 196 pounds, is also by his brother’s estimation the most skilled Tkachuk. He scored eight goals and 31 points in 40 games as a freshman at Boston University. But it was at the world junior hockey tournament in Buffalo — where he scored three goals and nine points in seven games, and scored the overtime-shootout winner in the outdoor game — that showcased his offensive potential.
“I definitely pride myself and see myself as a big-time player who comes up in big-time games and big-time moments,” Brady said. “I thrive in those games and really enjoy when it’s a high-pressure game. That’s kind of how I play: fast and physical and I’m not afraid of those moments.”
Scouts believe he will go in the top five, where Montreal (third overall) and Ottawa (fourth overall) have picks. “I’ve done a little bit of research on both,” Brady said, adding that he can play either wing or centre.
When asked whom he compares his game to, Brady mentioned Toronto’s Auston Matthews, St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn and Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds because, “He’s not afraid to get under skins and answer the bell too.”
His brother is obviously another source of inspiration — especially when it comes to trash talking.
“Matthew’s pretty quick, so he’s good at that,” Brady said. “I know it’s pretty surprising, but I’m not the best chirper. I just try to be as funny as I can out there … (Matthew’s) an aggravator. That’s what our extended family calls him. He’s obviously a great guy and we’re really close, so I love seeing it because I like to do the same thing.”
Zadina willing to learn French if he gets picked by the Canadiens
Filip Zadina spent this season playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. But when it comes to understanding French, his language skills are definitely lacking.
“Literally none,” the Halifax Mooseheads winger said. “I can say, ‘Je m’appelle Filip’ and ‘merci,’ but that’s it.”
That would change, added Zadina, if the Montreal Canadiens select him in this year’s NHL Draft. The Canadiens have the No. 3 pick, right around where Zadina could be available.
“If I ended up there, I would need to learn the French language,” said the Czech-born Zadina, who could also end up in Carolina, who hold the second pick, as well as the Ottawa Senators, who are picking fourth.
“Montreal, I know very well,” he said. “I’ve been to the city many times and the fans are awesome. But they’re looking for a centre or a D. Ottawa, I’ve been there when we played in Gatineau. It’s the capital of Canada, so it would mean a lot to play there. It will be good if it’s either Montreal or Ottawa.”
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