Just under 3 short months ago, the Minnesota Wild brass were sitting on the floor at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA, mulling over who they were going to take in the opening round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The popular thought was Joshua Ho-Sang would be selected by the Wild if he was still available at 18 (and he was), we even selected him at that spot in our staff mock draft as well as the overall SB mock draft.
While the decision to draft Alex Tuch may not have been popular at the time, I think a lot of us worked the 5 steps of grieving, and landed at acceptance. Some are even, dare I say, happy about it now? And you have plenty of reason to rejoice Wilderness. Alex Tuch is a monster pick up for the Wild. Standing at 6'4 and weighing in around 215 lbs, Tuch already has the size to be a dominating force on the ice. The Syracuse, NY native will be playing for Boston College this year, not exactly a bunch of chumps on that roster either. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that his development will be in good hands this season.
With Tuch making his way through the pipeline towards an eventual NHL roster spot with the Wild, it tough not to get excited for this kid. I've actually been rooting for Tuch for awhile now, even thought he was worth a 12 overall selection for the Arizona Coyotes in our staff mock draft. (Sorry Arizona, you guys missed out. Brendan Perlini? Really?)
So Tuch has great size, he's going to a fantastic program at BC, but what else does he bring to the table?
He Got Skillz
Alex Tuch is much more than just a pretty face. Physically, he's NHL ready. His great size in combination with his leadership skills will not only translate to the NHL level pretty easily, but he will also be the kind of player that in the long run players will look up to. He's very committed to his team, not afraid to get down in the dirty area's and he's willing to stick up for his teammates. He's got an eye for the net, which has been exampled by his season in the EmJHL with the Syracuse Jr. Stars where he produced at a blistering rate scoring 44 goals with 57 assists for 101 points in just 40 games. Last season for the U.S. National U18 team, Tuck notched 64 points (29 goals / 35 assists) in 61 games.
Tucks eyes for the net, leadership and maturity are not all he brings to the table. The kids got smarts too. His hockey I.Q. has been heralded by many a prospect scout.
He is a very smart hockey player - dare I say genius? He has the NHL-level Ice-Q that scouts drool over. He makes miraculous passes in the slot, and knows exactly where his line-mates are and will be by the time the puck is off his stick.
He's got amazing hands and sneaky speed for a guy of his size. He's certainly not going to be the quickest guy on the ice, but he's able to turn up ice and jump in any rush. Alex Tuch has drawn comparisons to Jordan Staal, Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar, David Backes and Ryan Getzlaf. If he's able to roll up all that talent into 1 guy on the ice, you have to believe the Wild got him at a steal for the 18th pick.
Tuch and cover
Really the only thing holding Tuch back from cracking an NHL or AHL roster right now is consistency. It's really tough find find someone out there with a bad thing to say about the kid. But between his 2011-2012 massive 101 point season and his big U.S. National U18 team he posted some less than stellar numbers on the U.S. National U17 team, lodging just 11 goals and and 15 assists for 26 points in 56 games. Those numbers are less than stellar, but when you look at how he bookends that season you really shouldn't worry too much about him. He's still young, and he'll get there.
Personally, I'd be surprised if Tuch makes it past his freshmen season at BC. Sophomore year maybe, but if he shows growth with his scoring touch stays true there is really no reason to have him stick around the NCAA too long. Being that Tuch is a college kid, he's not bound by the AHL age restriction rules. The only asterisk here is if he decides to turn pro after his freshmen year, there is no going back to playing hockey for BC. Tuch may have what it takes to crack the Minnesota Wild's roster by as early as the 2015-2016 season, but don't be surprised if he starts his career in Iowa,there are after all, 9 more players on this list ahead of him.