Through two games this season, Keith Tkachuk has two goals and two assists. It was a flashy opening to the season. So flashy, the NHL named Big Walt (you think the younger players call him Uncle Walt? Papa Walt? Grandpa?) one of its three stars for the first week of the season.
If you rewind the memory tapes, you might recall that Mr. Tkachuk (Mama Lee always said to respect my elders) got off to a blistering start last season. He scored goals in each of the first six games and eight goals in the first eight games. But the 37-year-old couldn't keep that kind of pace. He had separate streaks of eight and 10 games without putting the puck in the net. He finished with what could be considered a disappointing 25 goals on the season. He was held pointless in the Blues' four game ejection from the playoffs.
Tkachuk's best season with the Blues was his first full year in St. Louis, 2001-02. He scored 38 goals and 74 points in 73 games played. He's not the player that attracted long-term, big money contracts. He used to command in the neighborhood of $10 million a year. That dropped to $4 million. His current one-year contract pays him $2 million. On the positive side, his personality commands the room. Eric Brewer may wear the captain's C while skating laps wearing a no-contact jersey, but Tkachuk is the leader in the dressing room. He's still a big body in front of the net and can play well in traffic with defenders trying to get in his way.
The flip side is that playing center is physically demanding and while he may provide the most value there, it's the assignment that wears him down the most. This offseason, the Tkachuk re-signing really didn't get a lot of attention in St. Louis. He's basically said St. Louis is the only team he wants to play for. Fans knew he wasn't going to demand a long or expensive contract. So his return was taken for granted, an afterthought. In everything said and written about the Blues in the preseason, little to none of it talked about Tkachuk or what he brings to the team.
No he didn't ever live up to the money the Blues committed to him after the trade brought him from Phoenix. Yes he can be a little slow. And take dumb penalties. But he's still a valuable member of the team, right? Right?
Commenters, please pass judgement on the NHL's third star of the week. Do you like the Tkachuk? Do you think he'll be valuable for the Blues? Tell us down below.