In just two seasons in the N.H.L., Matt Tkachuk, the Calgary Flames’ left winger, has earned a reputation as one of the league’s most skilled, and most annoying, agitators. Soon he will probably have competition in that category — from his younger brother.
Brady Tkachuk, a bruising forward at Boston University, is expected to be the first American taken in the N.H.L. draft, which starts on Friday in Dallas. N.H.L. Central Scouting rated him second among North American skaters, and many mock drafts have him going as high as third or fourth overall.
At 6-foot-3, he is an inch taller than his older brother and has the frame of a classic power forward, like his father, Keith, who spent 19 years in the N.H.L. and is considered one of the best American-born players ever.
A left-shooting winger, Brady Tkachuk pairs his size and a nasty streak with a deft scoring and passing touch, something that Matt, the sixth overall pick in 2016, also displays.
“Brady’s a big body and he’s very strong already and only going to get stronger,” said Dave Gregory, a veteran scout with the N.H.L. “When you add his hands and hockey sense, he can play any kind of game. Once he has his full, mature, athletic body, there’s a really big upside.”
With the first overall pick in the draft, the Buffalo Sabres are expected to select Rasmus Dahlin, an 18-year-old Swedish defenseman who played for his country in this year’s world junior championship and the Olympics.
Although Dahlin is considered an elite defenseman, this year’s draft lacks a generational talent like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, who were taken first overall in 2015 and 2016. Still, the crop of players available is very deep, said Mike Doneghey, a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It’s a good year, from the early rounds to the mid to the late,” he said. “Maybe we don’t have a McDavid or a Matthews, but I think you can get good players at all spots in the draft.”
In a reflection of the increasing international complexion of N.H.L. rosters, this year’s first round could see more Americans and Europeans chosen than Canadians. Scouts believe as many as seven Americans could be selected in the first round. Five were taken in the first round in 2017; 11 in 2016, with Matthews leading the way; and seven in 2015, when Buffalo took Jack Eichel second overall.
Two other top American prospects are Quinn Hughes, a smooth-skating defenseman at the University of Michigan, and Oliver Wahlstrom, a sniper who played at the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program the past two seasons.
Brady and Matt Tkachuk grew up outside of St. Louis, where their father was banging the boards for the Blues. The boys often hopped on the ice before team practices, and when they were not at the rink, they were shooting pucks inside and outside their house, shattering their living room window more than once.
When it came to playing hockey, they adopted the hard-nose style they knew best. It worked for their father, who finished his career with 538 goals, third-best among American players.
“I definitely modeled my game after my dad and my brother,” Brady Tkachuk said. “We’re all pretty much power forwards and try to bring a lot of skill as well, and play tough, too. That’s how he taught us to play, always compete and never leave anything on the table.”
Tkachuk scored eight goals last season as a freshman at Boston University, but turned heads because of the havoc he created around opposing nets and his fondness for body checks. He was a standout at in the world junior championship in January, recording three goals and six assists for the United States team.
He said he would decide after the draft whether to return to B.U. or sign an N.H.L. contract. “It all depends on who drafts me and what’s best for my development,” he said. To prepare for a pro career, Tkachuk is working out this summer in Toronto with N.H.L. players, including his brother and Winnipeg Jets star Mark Scheifele. Regardless of when Tkachuk is selected, he is likely to have the largest and loudest cheering section at American Airlines Center, where the Dallas Stars are hosting the draft.
Keith Tkachuk said: “We have my parents and brother and sisters and their families coming from Boston, my wife’s parents and family coming Winnipeg, friends coming from St. Louis. It will be about 90 people.”