Geek of the Week: Brady Tkachuk, The Boy Who Hits

by Ben Burnett on October 27, 2019


The 2019-20 Ottawa Senators are kind of like if scientists took a normal hockey team under a microscope and said “okay but what if we took away all the good players?” It’s going to be difficult for just about anybody (short of the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights) to produce under those circumstances. As a result, Sens’ players were available at extremely cheap prices in fantasy drafts this past off-season.

In fact, the only two Senators players who were chosen in a majority of this year’s drafts were Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot. Tkachuk, in particular, represents an incredibly interesting value opportunity for managers in bangers leagues. In his first season in the league, Tkachuk put up elite multi-cat numbers, producing reasonable offensive numbers (22/23/45 in 71 games), over 200 shots, 75 penalty minutes, and 174 hits.

This year, baby Brady has struggled out of the gate, putting up only three points through his first ten games. It’s understandable given the Sens are playing in a post-Mark Stone and Matt Duchene world, but that doesn’t do much to help fantasy owners wondering whether it’s time to drop a player they likely selected in the first eight rounds. The question remains: what can poolies expect from Tkachuk over the course of his sophomore season?

Season so far:

Tkachuk has still been reasonably productive in multi-category leagues. Though he’s on a sub-25 point full-season pace, he is still filling up the shots, hits, and PIMS categories. His 11 penalty minutes put him inside the league’s top 50, while 38 shots and 34 hits have him ranked in the top 20 in both categories. Given Tkachuk has remained productive in the bangers’ categories, we need to look specifically at what he can provide for fantasy teams in the offensive cats.

Using data from the first 81 games of his career, we will try to forecast what might be reasonable expectations for Tkachuk without his former superstar linemates. One positive for Tkachuk is he’s gained nearly one full minute in even strength time on ice this year, as he now averages 14:41 ESTOI, while also skating for 60 percent of the team’s PP time. Despite all these advantages, his point pace is half last year’s 82 game mark (52).

One of the best signs for Tkachuk owners is the increase in his shot rate this season. At even strength, he’s gone from shooting 10.54 shots per 60 minutes to 13.89. That has resulted in only two goals on the year, a number which is bound to trend upwards. Unfortunately, Tkachuk’s shot rates have declined quite a bit on the power play so far this season. Last year, the rookie forward was shooting 16.24 shots / 60 minutes on the power play, the most of any skater playing regular PP1 time. This year, Tkachuk is shooting only 6.78 shots / 60 minutes so far, fewer than Chabot, Anthony Duclair, and Colin White. It would be nice to see that rebound, and it’s certainly not out of the question, but it’s a rough start for the sophomore.

Making a projection:

As far as his point rate goes, it’s probably not fair to assume Tkachuk can match last year’s per 60 totals, given the Senators have traded away their best two forwards. But if we use his full career point / 60 rate, that likely gives us a decent starting point for a projection. The littlest Tkachuk has played 30 games, nearly half of his career, since Stone was traded to Vegas, so the numbers shouldn’t be too inflated from the start of his career when he was playing with stronger linemates.

While I think it’s safe to say he maintains his ESTOI (14:41) in 2019-20 (who else can the Sens reasonably put out there?), I am going to regress his PPTOI. The reason being, a ten-game sample can give distorted PPTOI totals, since power-play opportunities are determined by referees and game script. So while I’m heartened to see he’s playing 60 percent of the team’s PPTOI, I’m going to assume over a full season that equals out to around the Sens’ team leaders in PPTOI in 2018-19, as opposed to thinking he will maintain the 3:26 he’s averaging this year. Looking at last year’s PPTOI leaders, it seems reasonable to project Tkachuk will average about 2:45 on the power play over the rest of the season.

To project assists, penalty minutes, hits, and blocks I’m going to look at his full-career per 60 rates, assuming he maintains the deployment mentioned above. And then for goals, I’m going to take this year’s shots / 60 as opposed to his full-career, under the assumption that his shot share is dictated more by coaching and game planning.

I am also going to split his even strength and power-play rates to give us a better sense of where we might see improvement over the course of the year. We’ll ignore his penalty kill rates since he plays on the PK unit so infrequently (less than 10 seconds played on the kill so far in 2019-20).
 

 

TOI

GP

G

A

PTS

SOG

SH%

PIMS

Hits

Blks

ES

14:40

72

24

17

41

244

9.8%

69

194

27

PP

2:45

72

2

6

8

22

8.5%

11

2

0


Analysis:

If we combine Tkachuk’s full-season point pace to his production through ten games, the second-year player would finish with 28 goals and 24 assists for 52 points. That’s tolerable production for fantasy owners in 14 team leagues, but where the littlest TK makes the most hay is in the peripheral categories, where he should be able to produce 304 shots, 91 penalty minutes, 230 hits, and 30 blocks.

Those back end numbers are Ovechkin-esque, and while the point totals aren’t going to blow anyone away, that’s a very useful player for bangers league managers. Consider also that this is a baseline. If the league-worst Sens power play can figure something out, or if Tkachuk regresses back towards his 2018-19 PP shot share, the second-year player could surpass 30 goals and push 60 points.

For now though, Tkachuk remains an incredibly useful option in multi-cat leagues, despite being on a bottom-feeder of a franchise. If the Tkachuk owner in your league is getting antsy with the slow production to start the year, it is likely worth sending out some buy-low offers to see if you can get the boy on your squad.

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