When MayorsManor first reported the Kings were close to signing Russian forward Vladimir Tkachyov on Friday, comparisons instantly started coming in to Kirill Kaprizov and Artemi Panarin. And that’s nowhere near accurate. Nor is labeling him ‘just another Prohkorkin.’
Any of the above statements are just lazy and don’t speak to who the player really is. You can’t paint all Russian players with the same brush, just as you can’t say all QMJHL players are Sidney Crosby or the next hot Finnish prospect is the second coming of Teemu Selanne.
So what exactly did the Kings get when they signed Tkachyov?
For starters, they’re getting a right-shot left wing who put up 38 points in 45 KHL games this season. Listed at around 5-foot-10 and 170 lbs, he’s previously appeared in two KHL All Star Games.
We’ll use our popular 10 Tidbits format to dig in further and share all the scoop you need.
1. First off, the name. It can be a bit tricky for two reasons. For starters, in recent years there have actually been two players named Vladimir Tkachyov in the KHL. The Kings signed the younger of the two, Vladimir E. Tkachyov, who was born in 1995. We hear the ‘E’ stands for Excitement – we’ll have to research that one a bit more.
The other confusion surrounding his name comes from the fact that when he came over to play junior hockey in the Quebec league prior to the 2014 NHL Draft, he went by Tkachev. Given that the Kings filed his new contract with the league as Vladimir Tkachyov, that’s what we’re going with until otherwise officially corrected at some point in the future.
As far as pronunciation goes, we’re told it sounds like “catch-ev” when spoken.
2. A little background on some events from the past also offers some insight into what he’s been up to since his time playing Canadian junior hockey. Tkachyov wasn’t selected at the 2014 NHL Draft after being projected as a mid-to-late round pick. The Edmonton Oilers wisely swooped in and invited him to their summer Development Camp. They liked what they saw from the slippery forward and had him back for training camp a few months later – even suiting him up for a few preseason games. Eventually, Edmonton announced he had signed a three-year Entry Level Contract. Hours later, the NHL said, ‘Not so fast!’ and pointed to the section in the CBA which pointed out they missed their window to sign him as an undrafted UFA and, per the rules, he was required to go back into the pool for next year’s Draft. Embarrassed by the situation, then-GM Craig MacTavish had to admit his team didn’t read the CBA properly.
3. Heading into that 2014 NHL Draft, Mark Seidel (a well-respected CHL scout who was recently on Kings Of The Podcast to talk about LA’s current prospects) had referred to Tkachyov as the “biggest sleeper” in the draft, pointing to his “dynamic offense” while playing in the QMJHL that season for Moncton. Other scouting services included descriptive phrases like, “A slick and highly skilled winger who has the ability to make defenders look foolish with his bag of puck tricks” and “The undersized winger skates with unmatched quickness and shiftiness, darting in and out of traffic… highly elusive, has a killer change of pace and is extremely creative.”
Don't see a lot of guys doing what Tkachev (North American spelling) does here… https://t.co/zCtlJsh6zj
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) May 29, 2021
4. Following the Oilers debacle, Tkachyov returned to Moncton in September 2014, scoring 16 points in 13 games and then missing about a month of time due to injury. Once he was healed, Quebec Remparts head coach and director of hockey operations Philippe Boucher (yes, the same one who played for the Kings in the late ’90s / early 2000s) wasted no time trading for the speedy winger in December. With Boucher’s Remparts due to host the Memorial Cup later that season, as is often the case in junior hockey, they were loading up for their home fans. The Remparts made it all the way to the QMJHL Final that season, losing to the Rimouski Océanic in seven games. They later avenged that loss at the Memorial Cup before ultimately falling to Leon Draisaitl and the Kelowna Rockets in the semi-finals.
5. Despite a second strong season of junior hockey in North America, Tkachyov was passed over again at the 2015 NHL Draft. It’s a story as old as the day is long; teams avoided him because of his size and/or the so-called Russian factor. Even his performance on the international stage wasn’t enough to convince an NHL team to use a draft pick on him. At the Under-18 tourney, Connor McDavid (14 points) was the only person to put up more points than Tkachyov’s 11.
6. Upon returning to Russia, Tkachyov has provided offense every step of the way:
2016-17 — Second in goals and points for Vladivostok Admiral, despite playing nine fewer games than the team leader
2017-18 — Finished third in KHL goals, behind Nigel Dawes and Ilya Kovalchuk
2018-19 — Third in assists for Ufa Salavat Yulayev
2019-20 — Leading scorer for St. Petersburg SKA
2020-21 — Leading scorer for St. Petersburg SKA
7. The Kings have been scouting him for several years, where he was referred to as “uber talented” and the hope was he’d be interested in coming to the NHL as a free agent in the summer of 2022. However, a mutual termination of his three-year deal with St. Petersburg SKA last month sped up the time table. Speaking with an NHL scout who has seen him plenty, he noted, “If he works out, LA has nothing similar in the lineup.”
Hearing LA Kings are close to announcing a deal with Russian forward Vladimir Tkachyov. The 25yr old forward recently split with SKA to pursue his NHL dream. https://t.co/S8dU3Iphys
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) May 28, 2021
8. Over the past 48 hours, we also reached out to guys who played with or against Tkachyov in the KHL. Some of the things we heard were:
— “Super skilled”
— “Can takeover games”
— One guy joked that because of Tkachyov’s apparent disinterest in defense at times, this signing by the Kings would result in him “either being elite or horrible.”
— “He has skill and vision. More of a playmaker than a scorer. A shot would be his fourth option.”
— “A straight up skill guy, doesn’t battle in corners.”
— “Very fun to play with him, he sees the ice so well.”
9. From a salary cap perspective, this is an easy deal for the Kings to make. Tkachyov received a signing bonus of $92.5K, along with an NHL salary of $832.5K; giving him a cap hit of $925K. Additionally, he’s eligible for a series of performance bonuses. It’s a one-year Entry Level Contract, with the term largely dictated by his age and coming in as a player from Europe. He’ll be an RFA next summer, so the Kings control his rights should he have a breakout season. Barring a long-term extension next summer, Tkachyov is currently eligible to become a UFA in 2023.
His minor league salary is listed at $80K, yet we don’t expect that really to be a factor here. From what we understand, if he isn’t able to secure an NHL roster spot, Tkachyov and the Kings will likely utilize the European Assignment Clause in his contract and he’ll head back to the KHL.
10. So what do the Kings really have in Tkachyov? That’s a question that can really only be answered with speculation. It’s way too soon — and a rather unfair expectation — to declare him the next Panarin. After watching Kaprizov do a number to his team multiple times this past season, we’ll assume coach Todd McLellan is hoping he can turn Tkachyov into LA’s very own version.
There’s no need to jump to any conclusions, though. What the Kings did was sign a player with low risk (it didn’t cost them anything other than a low-level contract) and potentially high reward.
The team wants to add more skill to their forward group for next season. As discussed on this week’s Kings Of The Podcast, the belief is most of their young prospects are still about a year away, so they’ll need to inject some offense from outside the organization. A few bridge players to buy time for guys like Arthur Kaliyev, Akil Thomas, and Alex Turcotte to develop a tad more.
In the meantime, Tkachyov gives them another option heading into training camp this September. They’ve made an educated guess and they’ll provide him an opportunity to succeed. At that point, it’s up to the player. In those situations, some rise to the occasion, others don’t fit.
He’s a player coming to camp to challenge for an NHL roster spot. If he shows well enough to earn one, great for the Kings. Instead, if it appears 14 other forwards will give the Kings a better opportunity to win, that’s OK too. As long as they’re on the way to making the playoffs in 2022.
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