Senators’ Brady Tkachuk Can Grow to Play like Brother Matthew

The Florida Panthers’ magical run leads the NHL as one of the biggest storylines this postseason. The Miami-based team started surprising in the playoffs after completing a 3-1 playoff comeback against the record-setting Boston Bruins. They followed that with a 4-1 series win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who themselves finished fourth in the league. 

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Now, they have a commanding 3-0 lead against the Carolina Hurricanes, the second-best team in the regular season. Another win would see them make the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996 when they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Matthew Tkachuk Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images)

Many factors can be praised for the Panthers’ success. Since entering midway through the Bruins series, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been a huge factor. It is surprising given his performance in recent seasons, but also unsurprising given that he also helped sweep a record-setting team in the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 when playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

But another player that is factoring in this playoff run is Matthew Tkachuk 一 and Ottawa Senators fans need to watch him closely and embrace it. Yes I know, Tkachuk is one of the most despised players in the league, unless you have him on your favorite team. And yes, the Panthers took away a valuable playoff spot and are in the Atlantic Division, which is also the Senators’ division. 

Now, the reason Sens fans should watch Tkachuk closely is because he’s a very special player. He’s a reason fans tune in and watch, as he plays a unique style at an elite level 一 the same style that current captain Brady Tkachuk could offer his team in the future. At the moment, Matthew has been the better player in his career. But in this article, I will draw comparisons between the two Tkachuk brothers to show how Brady has the potential to be a similar special player for the Senators.

Family and Physique Comparables

The Tkachuk brothers aren’t the only notable players to bear the family name. Their father Keith, who is always in conversations to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, amassed 1,065 points in 1,201 games for the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes (now Arizona), where his two sons were born. His children grew up in St. Louis and had a chance to watch their father play.

Keith Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets

It’s important to note that while the two players play similar roles on their team, they have their differences. The main one would be their physique. As a reference, Keith was listed at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds during his playing days. Matthew has a similar frame, being the same height and around 30 pounds lighter. Brady, however, is different in this regard, as he’s always been bigger than Matthew. Brady currently towers over many players in the league with his imposing 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame. While this two-inch difference doesn’t seem to be much, it does change the way they adapted themselves to play the game.

Career Paths and Development

When Matthew was just in his third year in the league, Brady was being discussed as one of the top prospects for the 2018 Draft. During that time, many scouts thought Brady would end up being better than Matthew. As of now, Matthew is falsifying this statement with his strong performances, both in the regular season and now in the playoffs. But Matthew is 25 and Brady is only 23, so he has time to prove those scouts right. Let’s look at how their paths differed in junior. 

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Both started playing for the U.S. National Team of the United States Hockey League (USHL). However, it was what they chose after that differed. Matthew transferred to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), while Brady committed to Boston University.

Matthew was one of three players with at least 107 points by the end of his final season. The other two are familiar names in Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak. Ultimately, they ended up winning the prestigious Memorial Cup. This performance convinced the Calgary Flames to draft him sixth overall in 2016. He made it to the NHL the year following, amassing 13 goals and 48 points in 76 games. Brady has bragging rights over Matthew – and his father – as he was drafted fourth-overall by the Senators in 2018. He also played in the NHL the year after being drafted.

On-Ice Difference Makers

The Panthers knew what they were getting when they acquired Matthew in a huge trade that involved Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar going the other way. They got a player that likes to make a splash in-game, whether that be by getting in his opponent’s heads or with magnificent plays on the ice. Matthew’s 109 points outnumbered his brother’s 83. That is an important category, but when you look at how punishing they are to play against, Brady’s stats show that he has an edge.

Related: Flames, Jonathan Huberdeau Lost the Matthew Tkachuk Trade

Brady not only led his brother but also the league in penalty minutes drawn this season with 102. Yes, Matthew also had 83, which was fifth in the league. But the following statistic shows the main difference in the way the players are agitators. Matthew had 68 hits this season, while Brady had the eighth-highest total in the league, with 242. It is the fourth straight year Brady led his team in hits – and this is his fifth year in the NHL. 

Brady Tkachuk Ottawa Senators
Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators hits Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When you realize that Brady not only put up 83 points in 82 games while also amassing 242 hits, it opens your eyes to what kind of a player the Senators have in him. He is the type of guy that shows up every night and always sacrifices his body. In other words, he’s a player his team can look up to and rally around. The Senators made that clear when they announced him as the team’s captain at the age of 22 – it’s Brady’s team now (from ‘Senators Captain Brady Tkachuk on DJ Smith: ‘He’s the coach for us’’, Ottawa Sun, 4/14/23).

Answering the Big Question

Now for the big question: can Brady play the same role in the future as Matthew? The answer to that question is yes, but not in the same way. There is no denying that both Tkachuk brothers are unique and tremendous players that know how to put on a good show. They are truly two of the best in the league at agitating opponents while also playing at an elite level. Both are leaders, but the difference is that Matthew does it more skillfully, while Brady does more physically. That could change in the future, though.

In the end, this debate will really only be settled when the Senators have their turn in the playoffs. But for now, they can only watch as Matthew and the Panthers make their push for the Stanley Cup.