Tkachuk sticks with Flames, avoids OHL demotion

Watch as Matthew Tkachuk scores his first career NHL goal.

The plan worked, and the kid stays.

Eighteen-year-old rookie Matthew Tkachuk is expected to play his 10th game with the Calgary Flames Thursday night versus the San Jose Sharks.

Flames coach Glen Gulutzan had some fun delivering the good news, first pointing out some of Tkachuk’s mistakes during the team video session and asking the rookie if he thought his plays were of NHL quality.

Once Tkachuk steps on the ice, he will trigger the first season of his entry-level contract and avoid, for now, a return to the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

The sixth-overall pick of 2016 was being evaluated on a game-by-game basis, serving some time as a healthy scratch. A native of Scottsdale, AZ, and son of famed NHLer Keith, Tkachuk exploded for 107 points in 57 games with the Knights last season and was determined to stick in the NHL.

The power forward has one goal and three assists for four points through nine games. His possession metrics and nasty edge have also been excellent.

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If Tkachuk, who has been rooming with Sean Monahan, can hang on with the Flames’ roster through 40 games this season, he will move one year closer to unrestricted free agency and salary arbitration rights.

Tkachuk will join Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecy, Arizona’s Jacob Chychrun and Florida’s Denis Malgin in a deep crop of entry-level slide candidates to reach the 10-game mark.

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