Here's why the Flames are burning a year on Matthew Tkachuk

christian tiberi
November 03 2016 02:30PM

Matthew Tkachuk will play his 10th NHL game tonight, burning off the first year of his ELC, meaning his contract will expire a year earlier than it needs to. With four points in nine games, it's a bold move for the team. 

Tkachuk, from a points perspective, isn't producing enough to say he is a vital contributor to this team. Since he is not providing any additional wins through his points contribution, it would be good from a contract perspective to send him to London and bring up Hunter Shinkaruk and have him produce at a similar rate for no ELC loss.

On the other hand, Tkachuk is simply playing out of his mind, regardless of whether or not it shows up on the scoresheet. By looking at the possession numbers, you can certainly make the argument that Tkachuk playing in the NHL is the right spot. In fact among one of the strongest rookie classes in recent NHL memory, he is one of the best possession players.

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We Were Wrong About Bo Horvat

Jackson McDonald
November 03 2016 09:00AM

For a player that's been under the magnifying glass since the age of 16, Horvat remains somewhat of an enigma. His bull-rushes and inside-outside moves have enthralled Vancouverites over the past two years, as he's firmly planted himself in fan favourite territory, but there still seems to be little consensus on just what exactly the Canucks have in the young centreman.

It's pretty clear at this point that the Canucks landed an impact forward when they selected Horvat with their first-round pick in 2013, but over three years later there remains some debate about what his ceiling is, what role he's best suited for, and even what his strengths and weaknesses are. 

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It's time to make a decision on Matthew Tkachuk

Ari Yanover
November 02 2016 10:00AM

Well, there it is: Matthew Tkachuk has officially played nine NHL games. One more, and the first year of his entry-level contract is burnt.

What does he have to show for his professional career so far? 

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Fixing the Vancouver Canucks Power Play

J.D. Burke
November 02 2016 09:00AM


Photo Credit: Sergei Belsky - USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knew going into this season that the Canucks would be hard pressed to produce offence at even strength. Perhaps nobody knew more so than the Canucks themselves.

Combined with their general inability to generate positive shot differentials, Vancouver was always bound to a path less travelled if their destination was the post-season. That means playing to a tie at evens on most nights and putting the game away on special teams. There's a large element of luck involved therein, but such is life for the league's have-nots.

The Canucks penalty kill has, mostly, been a strength under Head Coach Willie Desjardins. His power play perhaps less so. Last season they finished 26th in the league in conversion rate. This season they're ranked 28th.

At this rate, USA TODAY's 65 point prediction is optimistic. If the Canucks can't fix their power play, that is.

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Analyzing Toronto's Game Score from October

Dom Luszczyszyn
November 02 2016 07:00AM

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS

The Leafs are off to a rough start to the 2016-17 season winning just three of their first ten games, and while the record isn't great so far, the season hasn't been a complete disaster yet. For starters, this team is not as bad as their record might suggest and a lot of that has to do with the fresh new faces on the team.

With that being said, I wanted to take the end of the first month as an opportunity to look at the Leafs player's Game Score more to see which players played good or bad, which ones have been consistent and also the most surprising names based on pre-season expectations. 

For those unfamiliar with Game Score, it's a single number stat meant to measure single game productivity and player value that I developed over the summer. It basically combines the most important box-score stats and weights them by their relevance to goals. It's not perfect and there's much that is unaccounted for, but it does pretty well for something that is relatively simple to compute and comprehend.

The sample is still incredibly small, but I figure taking a look at the team on a monthly basis could provide some insight into how the team is doing. So without further ado, here's how the Leafs October looked through the eyes of Game Score and some thoughts on it.

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