Pop Quiz: How many Edmonton Oilers fans recall the name Vladimir Tkachev? The young Russian forward went undrafted as an 18-year-old at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, but was invited to attend the Oilers’ training camp the following fall. He impressed the Oilers brass so much that he earned himself a three-year, entry-level contract. Just one problem though… the NHL rejected the deal on the grounds that Tkachev was ineligible to be signed until the following offseason due to a clause in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement that protects the right of CHL players. Because Tkachev had left Russia to play for the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, he was ineligible to be signed. The deal was dumped and Tkachev returned to Moncton.
Flash forward four years and it looks like the now 22-year-old sniper might be ready to give the NHL a shot again.
In his latest 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman caught up with KHL head coach and former NHLer David Nemirovsky and the two discussed Tkachev and his potential NHL return.
Does Nemirovsky think he can eventually make the jump back? “Now, I think he can. Ask me a year ago, maybe not, because he did not get the other side of the game. With the puck, he’s unbelievable. Not with it, he wasn’t there. But, towards the end, he was becoming a different player. He’s still young (22), and if it goes the way it went last year, he can do it. He needs to get stronger and he knows it. Another year.”
Officially Tkachev is listed at just 5’10” and 145 pounds. That’s MUCH to small for the NHL. But if the kid can put up 10-20 pounds of muscle in the next year, who’s to say that he couldn’t find success in the NHL?
He has 17 goals and 40 points in 46 games in the KHL this season, split between Nemirovsky’s Vladivostok Admiral and Ufa Salavat Yulayev. The Oilers could desperately use some scoring on the wing. Should they take another run at Tkachev if and when he decides to return to North America?