Using ice and the game of hockey as his canvas, Russian winger Vladimir Tkachev turned heads during a very brief opportunity in the QMJHL. Among those impressed? The Edmonton Oilers.


rom tkachev

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These are CHL projections from the (now defunct) Extra Skater. I’ve borrowed (lifted) this from a tweet August 13 by Rom from Oilers Rig. As you can see, despite playing 20 games Tkachev showed extremely well—he’s in some insane territory for a guy who passed through the draft.


neil hodge

When the Edmonton Oilers named Bob Green director of Amateur scouting one year ago, he had a very specific chore:

  • “he will work closely with the Oilers’ hockey operations department
    and amateur scouting staff and will assist with identifying and
    recruiting NCAA, CHL and select European free agents”

My mind instantly went to college free agents, guys like Justin Schultz, Taylor Fedun, Mark Arcobello, et cetera. I also thought about 20-year old junior grads, men like Mitch Holmberg and Josh Winquist. I didn’t think about CHL teenagers like Vladimir Tkachev, who passed through the most recent draft, and should be eligible for the 2015 edition.

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Unless an NHL team invites him to training camp and then signs him. I’m no CBA expert, but the thrust of the issue comes in this portion of the collective bargaining agreement (hat-tip to Bank Shot at Lowetide blog):

  • 8.9 Eligibility for Play in the League.

No Player shall be eligible for play in the League unless he:

(a) had been claimed in the last Entry Draft, or was ineligible for claim under

Section 8.4; or

(b) had been eligible for claim in the last Entry Draft, but was unclaimed, and:

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(i) had played hockey in North America the prior season and was age

20 or older at the time of the last Entry Draft, and signed an SPC

which was signed and registered with the League between the

conclusion of the Entry Draft and commencement of the next NHL


(ii) had played hockey in North America the prior season and was
under age 20 at the time of the last Entry Draft, and signed an SPC
which was signed and registered with the League between the
conclusion of the Entry Draft and commencement of the Major
Juniors season (except that if such Player had signed an NHL tryout
form, which was signed and registered with the League during
the aforesaid time period, then the deadline for signing and
registering with the League an SPC with such try-out Club shall be
the commencement of the NHL Season).

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Hannah Stuart of the Hockey Writers picks up the story from there:

  • After realizing he’d been passed over, I remember hoping that some team would take a chance on him like the Carolina Hurricanes
    did on Sergei Tolchinsky last year. Tolchinsky went undrafted, but was
    later signed to an entry-level deal by Carolina, and ended up having a
    terrific 2013-2014 season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, putting
    up 91 points in 66 games. Now Edmonton has the opportunity to take a
    similar route wi
    th Tkachev.



Beyond the numbers above, which are splendid (in a small sample size), what are we looking at in Tkachev?

  • RED LINE REPORT: Exceptionally skilled, but diminutive winger. Tiny and does not have a big frame to fill out, but he’s incredibly elusive and instinctive around the offensive end. Super fast hands and could stickhandle in a phone booth. Skill level is 1st round calibre, but small frame is a major concern. 


No idea. The young man has a chance, and Edmonton has an interesting prospect. As a longtime observer of Oilers procurement, this move represents real innovation. In this way, there are two things to celebrate: a management team aggressively looking to make the team better, and a young Russian winger with substantial talent.

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    • Serious Gord

      The Oilers do have nice things, and they even choose to keep them now and again (see: Eberle, Jordan).

      Unfortunately, they also seem to have this defeatist attitude where even when they have nice things they are traded for plugs (see: Reider, Tobias and Kessy, Kale).

      Part of me wonders if they keep the nice things by accident. In the case of Tambellini, I’m pretty sure that was the case.

  • Joy S. Lee

    I am hugely pleased with this, and openly admit to having a little man-crush on this kid! Saw the guy play twice (the super series was one, I forget the other, may have been same the year before?), and was immensely impressed both times. Not only does he have high-end skill, but he seemed to be really good positionally. And he’s a gutsy, determined player – imperative for a little guy!

    These types of lateral moves are vital when you have a system to build, but mostly I love this because I loved what I saw of him in a couple of samples. I was actually hoping the Oilers would draft the kid, but this is even better… I think he’s a player. Whether he’s an NHL player remains to be seen; not a thing to lose, and everything to gain.

  • Serious Gord

    How many 5’8″ players are there in the NHL? Of those, how many went undrafted? How many enter the league per season?

    Very, very slim chance this guy gets even close to being a regular NHLer.

    • Numenius

      If you are 5’8″ or less and you are/were in the NHL, you likely did go undrafted or late in the draft.

      M. St. Louis – undrafted

      T. Fleury – drafted #166 overall,

      Steve Sullivan – drafted #233 overall

      Undrafted means little if you’re little.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Thatta boy. Didn’t take you too long. Throw a little sand on it. Maybe somebody will come out to challenge the big ol’ mean bully.

      Go have a peek at some of the highlights. I don’t care if they’re junior players, this kid has some talent, and great hockey sense. Your attempts to downplay this potential addition aren’t a downer, but are actually kind of funny. Thanks for the laugh. But I’ll make a prediction right now: you’ll be the one spitting sand out of your mouth over this one. I’ll go out on a limb and say he’s going to make it. I like the kid that much, longshot or not. Kiss that, ya big old, and probably fat, downer.

      • Serious Gord

        There has to be some degree of sanity/realism on this site. Otherwise it will be just like leafs nation.

        Not sure if you got to listen to lowetides show today. One of his regular guests pissed all over his corn flakes. Refreshing to hear the voice of reason amid the Happy happy.

        That said, if there really are no consequences to having him at camp then sure bring him along for the entertainment value. I would like to know the name of the guy who isn’t getting invited because he is. Now that would make for an interesting thread discussion…

        • Lowetide

          I’m glad you liked it! That’s Paul Almeida, who co-hosts Saturday noon to 2pm beginning September 7th. He’s on twitter, @AzorcanGlobal and a great follow!

          • Serious Gord

            Thanks I tried googling him when you said his name on air but my spelling was too far off I guess. He’s a good sparring partner for you. You probably aren’t surprised that I was nodding in agreement to virtually every point he made.

        • Joy S. Lee

          I don’t really care what you think. I love the kid. I think he’s got something well worth exploring. I don’t think he’s going to give the dream up easily, because I think he’s got character, to boot. Just a hunch, but it’s what I see.

          And his ability to make super-quick decisions, in super-tight spots, great hands, great hockey sense, great understanding of momentum, fantastic wheels AND acceleration, the ability to find teammates in traffic areas, the ability to create open space, the ability to shoot EFFECTIVELY and pick his spots…

          …yeah, I wonder who else they could’ve brought to camp, instead. You have your preferences. I have mine. I’ll take the shot at the difference-maker, thanks. You can fill the roster full of pluggers all you want.

          What is sanity/realism, anyway? What does that mean? Pay attention to what is? Everything should work the way it already is? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the NHL has been evolving. It’s why the Oilers are in the pickle they are in, because they never innovated, they just tried to do things the way everyone else was doing them. Except everyone else began doing new things. Things that helped them win, things that gave them advantages. That’s the game, you know? It doesn’t stay the same… ever. It not only changes from year to year, now, but almost from game to game. It’s why teams hire analytics guys now. Any advantage is still an advantage. Sure, size is dominating right now. But you know what happens in that cycle? Smaller guys learn to adapt, too, and they come up through the system like that, and face that kind of competition, and still excel. Maybe the new generation of smaller guys will begin to find ways to succeed in the new, new NHL, what do you think? Ah, you’ll disagree, but you don’t KNOW… you can say you do, but you don’t KNOW!

          Okay, I’m done my rant. Sure, I could be wrong about this kid. He’d still make a great player for OKC, no question. I think he’s going to make the Oil look like geniuses, but that’s just my hope, sure. I prefer him over the player you’d invite, without question. Times change, Gord. Try to keep up.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Allow me to comment:

        While S-Gord may or may not be correct, he, like you is entitled to his opinion. To call him fat and old only makes you seem like a child, if not in age, in maturity for sure.

        I agree with him. Likelihood of this guy making it aren’t good. There are a ton of 5’8-5’10 guys out there who can stick handle in a phone booth and just can’t make it. That’s not “throwing sand” in it. That’s reality.

        Do we cheer for the guys that do? Absolutely. Marty St. Louis is one of my favourite players. Heck, I’m thrilled when a lil guy makes a print. I’m on Arcobello’s side. I hope he makes it. But the facts are, most guys 5’8 won’t. 🙂 If this guy ended up playing as many games as Mike Comrie, he’d be a success and THEN some. More than likely, he’s not EVEN Omark as my previous post suggested.

        So, I’ll take your bet that he’s gonna make it, and I’ll give you 10-1 odds that he doesn’t make it.

        • Joy S. Lee

          Now that’s a fair comment, with some reasoning. Gord didn’t offer much beyond saying ‘not a chance.’

          I’ll accept that deal. I’ll put my money on this kid… on my hunch. He could get blown up, no question, but I see fight in this little dog. If you want one to cheer for, he’s a good pick, definitely Underdog.

          Thing is, skilled players are only going to make him look better, because that’s who he belongs with. The kind like, well, NHL players.

          I’m thrilled that he’ll be here… Watch him. Enjoy. I know I will.

          • ubermiguel

            Unfortunately NHL defencemen won’t be letting him walk around them like he did in that video clip.

            Still, gotta love an underdog story, I hope they take a flyer on the kid. And if you say he’s positionally sound he’s already one up on Omark and Schremp.

    • Serious Gord

      How many posts does Serious Gord make on a daily basis? Of those, how many are positive? How many will he have tomorrow?

      Very, very slim chance Serious Gord gets even close to saying something positive.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    I agree Gord, he was passed over in the draft because the odds he can overcome “diminutive” size is not good. But then the risk the Oilers take is zero. He has exceptional skill and that alone makes him worth a look. I think it is about time for Oilers to win on a longshot bet…especially when we are playing with the house’s money.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Never count anybody out. The Maple Leafs had Nikolai Borchevsky who may have been the smallest guy to ever play in the NHL (skinny frame, nicknamed stick).

  • ubermiguel

    Interesting depth deal that costs us little. Why not stockpile talent for 3-4 years down the road? I assume 1 more year in junior then a couple of years in the AHL or maybe sometime in the ECHL depending on his development. Then at camp in 2018 we can see if we have an NHL player or not.

  • Do what Weight did?

    Toooo small

    Oilers should quit wasting time on “projects”.

    I have seen many great players in junior over the years who burned up the league. When they got to the NHL they totally failed because of their size.

    Only a very very few small guys make it

  • Dipstick

    So if the Oilers sign him to an ELC, I assume that they can send him back to his junior club for a season or two and have the contract slide? Doesn’t seem like a lot of risk for the club.

  • Joy S. Lee

    I hope I’m not in trouble for that other comment…? I saw some others respond much more politically correct… but I’m not so, um, politically correct. Sorry.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Could be an Omark .2 or could be a Desharnias, who is 5ft 7 inc, @ 170 lbs… scored 53 points last year and a shooting % of 16.7.

    You never know with somne of these guys. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in the Oilers
    development program.

  • Serious Gord

    One other thing… Not sure where I heard it – Elliotte Friedman perhaps – but since the lost season there has been a gradual decline in the average Height and weight of NHLers. Rule changes and other factors (fitness level?) have made the league more welcoming to faster, less physical players and less so to enforcers. The change is not huge but it is a trend.

    • Joy S. Lee

      I noticed your comment here about decreasing size of players after my original reply. My compliments for your pointing that out, despite our disagreement. I find that interesting… but I would be curious with that being a league stat, if they had the same for the conferences, because out West here they seem to be getting bigger. Would be interesting to know that, too.

      • Serious Gord

        I think that the decrease in height/weight average may be the confluence of two things: the fading away of the big gallutes – darian hatcher types who flourished in the “old” pre-lost season nhl and the arrival of big fast skating skilled players. The former were a bit bigger/heavier than the latter and net:net it is a decrease but that many of these new generation big players are playing much more first and second line minutes than the old group thus the perception that teams are bigger than before is true IF you factor in minutes played.

        Just a theory.

        That and HD big screens make them look bigger than they did before the lost season when those kinds of Tvs were much less common.

  • Serious Gord

    Sure, he’s got a shot. He’s not much smaller than Arcobello, he’s not a center, and he’s got far more skill. Oh, and he’s young enough that he can still grow a little bit more. Kinda makes you wonder about why…

  • BlazingSaitls

    I in no way want to come across like im slagging the kid but I think that highlight was more a defensive breakdown. A non existent defense really.

    At 3.5 seconds he fumbles the puck. This was a fortuitous fumble in that the player nearest backed to the boards covering a bank. The #55 player got caught staring at the stalled, fumbled puck.

    Good talent and good play by the Russian but its not like he intentionally toe-dragged an entire nhl team ala’Datsyuk or Hemsky. Seems a somewhat over-rated highlight to me.

  • Serious Gord

    Im not trying to be Debbie Downer. In fact often people on this site think im TOO positive. But in this case i have to say if he tried that in an Oilers Camp-DNurse would have come across the ice and knocked him into next year.

    • Serious Gord

      Thanks for this! I looked for something like this and failed.

      So about 27 out of 700 odd NHLers are 5’8 or under and a handful of them are familiar names. That’s less than 4% – fewer than one per team. Assuming the average career is five years (it’s longer than that I think) then about five new players 5’8″ or less make it into the league. Very slim odds indeed.

      • Guy Lafleur

        Agreed. It must take exceptional skill and will to make it in the league as a small man. That said, I suspect the odds are improving given the game is shifting towards more speed and agility.

      • Joy S. Lee

        Not really that slim.

        Last years draft had only two players 5′ 8″ or under, three the year before.

        If there are 5 players of that size onboarding every year as you say, then those odds are stacked heavily in favour of this guy making it. Better yet, where is the 5′ 8″ and under pipeline?

        Unless of course he grows – hahaha.

  • Numenius

    I like this kid already and I have never heard of him! The response he has generated is overwhelmingly in his favour.

    He can be our Johnny Gadreau. Everybody loves an underdog so here is to our next legitimate hobbit……go Tkachev!

  • Guy Lafleur


    So we have an undersized Ehlers whom goes top 10. We have a undersized Tkachev who does not even get drafted. What makes one better than the other outside of sample size. Advanced stats look very similar on paper.

    I like him as a prospect but the complaint I would make is why not draft this guy with a late pick in the draft. You then get 2 years to see what they can do prior to making a decision to sign.

  • Joy S. Lee

    Weak attempt at a stick check at centre ice, a pylon for a D-man and Devan Dubnyk in goal missing on the shelfie!
    This player also goes by the name of Schremp or Omark. Goes missing often.