One of the only interesting stories to come out of the Oilers rookie camp/training camp so far is that of Vladimir Tkachev. The Russian born winger scored 10 goals and added another 20 assists in 20 games with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL last season but went undrafted this past June. You read that right, 1.5 points per game (sample size warning) and not a single team decided to take a chance on him with even a seventh round pick. Enter the Oilers who invited him to attend the team's rookie camp, and then after a good showing in Penticton extended a second invitation to him, this time to the main camp.
Tkachev saw his first action as a member of the home team in Sunday's split squad games with the Calgary Flames. Playing with Bogdan Yakimov and Kevin Westgarth I didn't feel that he did much to standout, although his play did improve as the game went on. He's not big a player, listed at just 5'9" and looked even smaller wearing a jersey multiple sizes too big, but positionally he did a lot of things right on Sunday night and help create a couple of offensive zone turnovers. We talk about size a lot on this site, and it is something that is certainly nice to have, provided that the player can also play the game, Tkachev might actually have negative size but he appears to be able to play the game.
Of course after one preseason game we probably shouldn't make sweeping generalizations, good or bad, about any players, we need to see them play more and against better competition first. In the case of Tkachev that opportunity should present itself tomorrow night when the Oilers take on the Jets in Winnipeg. Courtesy of the Oilers' Twitter feed:
#Oilers fwds vs. WPG tomorrow --> Yakupov-RNH-Eberle, Pouliot-Draisaitl-Tkachev, Kessy-Ewanyk-Pitlick, Miller-Yakimov-C.Hamilton
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 23, 2014
Skating with Benoit Pouliot and Leon Draisaitl well have our first real chance to see how Tkachev looks playing bigger minutes with better linemates, and likely against better competition. A good performance tomorrow night might be what he the Oilers need to be convinced that he's worth a chance on an entry level contract. Jim Matheson has some additional details on that:
The Oilers have until Oct. 1 to make a call on the 141-pound winger; they can sign him a three-year entry-level contract which doesn’t count against their 50-man reserve list until he plays a regular-season professional game.
In the end, acquiring Tkachev won't cost the Oilers anything more than money. What we see tomorrow night will tell us a little bit more about whether or not he's worth the investment.