Multiple sources have confirmed that no other teams had showed interest towards Tkachev, but Mercier is still happy with the addition.
“If you like a player who doesn’t know where his own zone is, he’s the guy you need”. That’s the quote I was given by a GM when reaching out about the Sharks latest move – signing a 1-year contract with Vladimir Tkachev.
The belief around the organization is that Tkachev will be called up and playing the next time the Sharks laces up the skate.
So, what are some of the strengths the left wing could bring?
For starters, he’s a fine passer and an OK goal-scorer. “When you look at this, he’s probably top 6 in terms of offensive potential for the Sharks” said one scout. And it’s easy to see him fit right there, with the likes of Christian Dvorak, Calle Jarnkrok and Dylan Strome when it comes to offensive prowess. (Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid are on another level)
This means one guy might be feeling nervous right now – Isac Lundestrom made the team out of camp, playing on that first line with Gaudreau and McDavid. The goal was clear, accelerate his development by having him play with the two best forwards. 5 games in, Lundestrom has racked up 3 points, all at even strength, and almost 19 minutes per game.
The coach doesn’t have an argument to make him pay right now. And the Strome – Dvorak – Jarnkrok line has been producing as expected, combining for 16 points in this early season. This means Tkachev will probably play a supporting role at even strength but could dynamize a 3rd of 4th line with his speed and add another weapon to the power play.
Who is the odd man out?
John Hayden looks like the perfect candidate. With only 1 assist and a minus-3 differential, he’s clearly the underperformer in a team that has seen solid contribution from almost everybody. But in the long-run, guys like Chandler Stephenson, Valeri Nichushkin and Sam Bennett could also feel the heat.
Lundestrom might be safe on the top line for now, but he could very well be the victim on the power play. Will he get a look on the second unit? If so, Andrew Shaw or Artem Anisimov could become collateral damages too. Good thing Shaw currently has 2 of the Sharks’ 3 goals when the opponents in the penalty box.
All in all, Mercier keeps making small additions to try and stabilize the team. After signing Aaron Ness for the farm team, and trading for Jason Demers, he’s rounding up his group of forward in hopes the team can keep up with the good results.
And maybe help the fans forget that Vitek Vanecek was lost on the waiver wire.