We’ve seen more than a few talented siblings pass through the league over the years. But among the current crop of NHLers, there may be no more intriguing pair of brothers than the Tkachuks.
Both already established as crucially important core pieces for two Canadian clubs, the sons of USA Hockey legend Keith Tkachuk both bring a bit of bite, a bit of swagger, and their fair share of offence.
But who holds the family crown thus far through their careers?
With 11 goals, 12 assists and 23 points through 28 games so far this season, Matthew leads brother Brady’s production — nine goals, six assists and 15 points through 26 games — in the simplest sense. Of course, the two log different minutes each night, get different special-teams opportunities, and have suited up for a different number of games. So, a look at their rates of offensive contribution instead:
Goals per game:
Matthew: 0.39 G/GP
Brady: 0.32 G/GP
Assists per game:
Matthew: 0.83 A/GP
Brady: 0.24 A/GP
Points per game:
Matthew: 0.82 P/GP
Brady: 0.56 P/GP
Adjusting for the number of games they’ve played, big brother still has the edge, with Matthew’s clip of 0.83 points per game outpacing Brady’s 0.56 points per game. Of course, much of that stems from Matthew’s higher assist rate thus far this season, as the pair are scoring goals at a fairly similar pace.
Points per 60 minutes:
Matthew: 2.67 P/60
Brady: 1.95 P/60
Taking into account the amount of ice the brothers get, Matthew’s advantage grows even more, with his 2.67 points per 60 minutes not only besting his little brother, but also ranking as the leading mark among all Flames players.
Of course, that Matthew has an edge in overall production isn’t surprising — while Brady’s looking good so far while navigating his sophomore season, his big brother is in Year 4, and fresh off a dominant 34-goal, 77-point campaign that put him on the map among the game’s top young scorers.
Stripping away that extra experience shows a clearer picture of how the two compare — heading into Saturday’s tilt, Brady has 97 career games in the big leagues. Looking at how he and Matthew produced at that 97-game mark, the younger Tkachuk’s edge emerges.
Production through 97 NHL games:
Matthew: 17 goals, 63 points
Brady: 31 goals, 60 points
The overall production is similar, but Brady’s established himself as the better sniper early on, nearly doubling his brother’s goal total at this same point in his career.
Moving back to what each has done this season, it’s plain to see why — while Matthew’s become a capable facilitator, Brady’s game is rooted in sending pucks to the cage, with his 97 shots so far this season tied for the fifth-most league-wide.
Let’s take a closer look at how the brothers match up in terms of offensive attempts:
Shots per game:
Matthew: 2.75 S/GP
Brady: 3.76 S/GP
Matthew: 25 iHDCF
Brady: 49 iHDCF
Here we find one area Brady sits far, far ahead of Matthew. The younger Tkachuk is averaging nearly a full extra shot per game so far, but looking even deeper at the manner in which each earns attempts on net, Brady’s stock rises even further.
Not only is the younger Tkachuk miles past his brother when it comes to individual high-danger chances, rush attempts, or rebounds created (all at even strength), Brady in fact leads the NHL in these categories so far this season, his bullish trajectory for the cage helping him establish his identity at this level.
Of course, the Tkachuk brothers bring far more to the game than just digits on the scoreboard. More synonymous with their names than any goal they’ve scored or play they’ve engineered is that classic image each seems to deliver on a nightly basis — skating back to the bench, chewed up mouthguard hanging half out for all to see, grin plastered across their faces and chirps flowing freely.
Ask Drew Doughty how fun it is to play against Matthew. Or ask Mark Stone, who knows Brady and his game better than most, what a treat it is to play against the six-foot-three, 196-pound man-child.
“They do all the little things. They’re pains, that’s the way you look at it,” Stone said lovingly of the Tkachuks on a recent episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast. A teammate and mentor of Brady in Ottawa before his move to Vegas, Stone said it’s the brothers’ penchant for the extracurriculars that makes them such valuable players.
“They’re annoying,” he told Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek with a laugh, “even playing one game against Brady, it was so annoying. He tries to jab you, he stops in front of the net, little things like that that make them good. But that’s what makes them tick.”
While it may all seem like theatrics, there’s one very valuable way that Tkachuk Hockey can impact their team’s success — drawing penalties. Matthew established himself among the best in the game in this area through his first couple years in the league, proving himself an expert in goading opponents into trips to the box.
The key, though, is walking that line without going so far as to land your own team on the penalty kill. A risky game, to say the least.
Minor penalties taken per 60 mins:
Minor penalties drawn per 60 mins:
Both brothers appear to be faring well in this area this season, with each drawing more minor penalties per 60 minutes than they’re taking themselves.
That said, for the time being, Brady’s surpassed Matthew as the most talented agitator in the family, with the younger Tkachuk drawing almost twice as many penalties as he’s taking himself — a skill that would be of far more use if not for the Senators housing the league’s worst power play at the moment (finding the twine on the man-advantage just 9.4 per cent of the time so far).
Role on their Squads
So, how exactly will each team deploy their Tkachuk on Saturday?
In his fourth season in Calgary, Matthew’s established himself as the emotional compass of these Flames, and the heir apparent to Mark Giordano’s ‘C.’ The 21-year-old is averaging 18:27 minutes of ice with the team — fifth-most among Flames forwards, after Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund.
Matthew’s entrenched himself on the second line in Calgary, forging a dominant partnership with Backlund while becoming a more dynamic offensive force than most out west expected. At even strength, he’s seeing the third-most ice, bested only by leading duo Monahan and Gaudreau. While he doesn’t suit up on the penalty kill, Matthew ranks third among Flames forwards in power-play time, again sitting just behind Nos. 13 and 23.
Playing out his second year in Ottawa, having already established himself as a key member of their core, Brady’s seeing the third-most ice among all Senators forwards this season — with Connor Brown and Jean-Gabriel Pageau sitting boave him.
Ranking third on the team in even-strength time on ice and similarly not getting sent over the boards for the penalty kill, Brady’s emerged as Ottawa’s top offensive weapon on the power play, with the 20-year-old leading all Senators forwards in that regard by a fair margin.
All that said, both brothers figure to get plenty of opportunity to do some damage Saturday, particularly on the man-advantage. So, let’s sit back and see who takes the latest iteration of the Tkachuk Bowl.