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No EA Cover, but Stock of Matthew Tkachuk Keeps Rising

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Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk celebrates with fans in Sunrise after beating the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the NHL playoffs. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Matthew Tkachuk will not be on the cover of the popular EA Sports NHL 24 — that honor is going to Colorado defenseman Cale Makar — but that does not mean the stock of the star Florida Panthers forward does not continue to rise.

Funny what a starring turn in the Stanley Cup playoffs do for a reputation, eh?

Although Tkachuk was looked at as one of the premier wingers in the NHL during his time with Calgary, his first season with the Panthers put him in another stratosphere as far as stardom goes.

Tkachuk has quickly become one of the most recognizable players in the league, his playing style and performance in big moments helping that along.

His emotional celebrations — and the ever-present hanging mouthguard — have not hurt.

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On the day it was released that Makar would be on the cover of the popular video game, NHL Network released its top wings currently playing in the NHL.

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Tkachuk was ranked No. 2 on what is, of course, a very subjective list. It is also a list made for just these times: The dead of summer.

At this time last year, Tkachuk was ranked No. 12 — with former Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who was traded to Calgary as part of the Tkachuk deal ranked No. 5.

Huberdeau, after scoring just 55 points in his Calgary debut, is not among the NHL Network Top 20 this summer.

When it comes to this summer’s rankings, it is hard to quarrel with NHL Network’s Top 5 although these kind of lists, being as subjective as they are, can lead to some arguments about the actual rankings.

As it stands, Boston’s David Pastrnak is ranked No. 1 with Tkachuk right behind. Rounding out the Top 5 are Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen and Jason Robertson of Dallas.

Mitch Marner, Kirill Kaprizov, Alex Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin and Brad Marchand make up the rest of the Top 10.

That is a pretty good neighborhood Tkachuk now occupies in the eyes of the rest of the NHL — and his house is right on the corner.

It is hard not to see how high Tkachuk’s stock has risen in the top year and it is certainly deserved.

Not only was he named the All-Star MVP here in Sunrise, but he finished third in Hart Trophy voting after recording his second consecutive 100-point season with 40 goals and 109 points which has five better than his previous career-high point total with the Flames prior to the trade.

Tkachuk certainly took a big step forward on the national stage during the postseason, making a bold statement after Game 5 in Boston that the Panthers would return for Game 7 despite having been down 3-1 in the series — and scoring twice in that Game 6 to ensure his team would indeed return to the Garden.

In 20 playoff games, Tkachuk scored 11 goals with 24 points — scoring four game-winning goals along the way including three in the Eastern Conference finals sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

His four-overtime winner against the Hurricanes in Game 1 was followed up with the game-winner in Game 2.

Those kind of big-time goals will get you noticed.

And, had it not been for a fractured sternum which he played through for a bit, who knows what Tkachuk’s numbers in the Stanley Cup Final would have looked like.

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