Fresh off his MasterCard Memorial Cup victory with the London Knights, highly-touted forward prospect Matthew Tkachuk will not participate in the fitness testing portion of this weekend’s NHL scouting combine due to a sprained ankle.
Tkachuk suffered the injury during the Knights’ Ontario Hockey League playoff series against the Niagara IceDogs, but successfully played through it, even picking up five goals and three assists in four games during the Memorial Cup tournament.
“I’m going to hold off on the testing,” Tkachuk told NHL.com, adding that he’s “a little dinged up.”
“There’s no point in doing any of the bike tests or the testing right now if I’m not 100 per cent,” he said. “Whichever team drafts me, I’ll be excited to test at development camp and see where I rank. We’ll see what they think and go from there.”
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The 18-year-old winger is currently ranked No. 2 on the NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American Skaters, and has generated plenty of interest with his strong post-season play. His draft stock is “gaining momentum,” and he could even go as high as No. 3 overall, adding some intrigue to what has been viewed as a locked-in “Big Three” of Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi at the upcoming draft.
Tkachuk did undergo Wednesday’s medical exam and Thursday’s functional movement screen test.
The news comes shortly after Puljujarvi, the projected third overall pick, also pulled himself out of the combine’s physical tests. The winger underwent surgery on his left knee in May.
“I don’t like [that I can’t participate],” Puljujarvi told NHL.com. “But it’s good, it’s good. It’s feeling better and better.”