September 30 2014 09:20AM
Vladimir Tkachev has done nothing but impress since he slipped on an Edmonton Oilers jersey. Now it seems that fans can look forward to him doing it again, because he’s signed an entry-level contract with the team.
Vladimir Tkachev signs with Edmonton Oilers and gets sent back to the Moncton Wildcats.— Neil Hodge (@ttneilhodge) September 30, 2014
Tkachev's 3-yr deal with EDM: $550/575/600,000 in NHL. He'll receive 55k/year as a signing bonus. Less AV than 7th rd'er Greg Chase.— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) September 30, 2014
A Balanced Response
This entry-level deal was well-earned.
Tkachev came to camp a complete unknown, save for the fact that he'd posted pretty decent numbers in 16 games in Russia and then come overseas and put up really nice numbers in the QMJHL (20GP, 10G-20A-30PTS). He was in camp on an invite and by all rights should have done what the vast majority of these guys do and vanished into the woodwork once he started playing games against real NHL prospects.
He didn't do that. Instead, Tkachev's play at both ends of the rink was far better than that of any number of older players. He was a star at the team's rookie tournament, and when the going got tougher in exhibition action he still found ways to stand out. One night ago, in a game where guys like Andrew Miller and Mitch Moroz and Will Acton all struggled mightily to stand out, Tkachev had no such problems, drawing multiple attackers to himself before setting up Mark Fayne nicely for the game's opening goal.
He might only be 5'9" and 140 pounds, but the longer he's played for the Oilers the more difficult it has been to believe he wasn't drafted.
It's easy to lose perspective on what the preseason is - a handful of games against widely varied competition. It's useful for evaluation purposes, but it's also no more than a snapshot. Every year somebody stands out in a meaningful way for good or bad, and it ultimately proves to be a mirage. Jesse Joensuu was that guy for the Oilers a season ago, but this is something that happens all the time in cities all across the league.
Tkachev's junior numbers suggest a guy who should have been drafted. His performance since coming over reinforced that. But the Oilers were in a much, much better bargaining position than Tkachev. No matter how well a pint-sized undrafted dynamo plays in an exhibition series like this, it doesn't add three inches and 50 pounds to his frame and it doesn't change the fact that a few months ago all 30 NHL teams passed him over. Entering negotiations, the situation stood like this: A year down the road if Tkachev stayed healthy and if he played well enough, he would again have the opportunity to get drafted. The NHL club that selected him (assuming one did) would then have two more years to wait and see before being forced to make a contract decision.
That gives the Oilers incredible leverage, and they've used it wisely. They didn't make the mistake of sending a guy who by number and by eye (albeit for a brief time) looks like a player, but they also didn't make the mistake of forgetting the way the system works. This was a chance to get a quality prospect for peanuts, and they took it. In exchange, Tkachev gets the security of an NHL contract at age 18, a luxury generally only afforded to the very best picks in any given draft class.
It's an arrangement that should work out very nicely for both parties.
This piece has been edited from its original version to clear up ambiguous wording on Tkachev's draft status - JW.
The deal has been ruled ineligible by the NHL.
Tkachev's deal ineligible. Had he played full season in CHL Oilers could've signed him to ELC after coming to camp on ATO— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 30, 2014
Tkachev played 2 games for Omsk (KHL) last season and then waited for his release to play in CHL. Obscure rule..he goes in 2015 Draft— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 1, 2014