February 20, 2014

Prospect Pulse: Alex Tuch

By Kirk Luedeke


Alex Tuch honed his skills with the Syracuse Stars and is headed to Boston College, most likely as a first-round NHL draft pick. He’s thriving (20 goals) with the U.S. NTDP. (Photo by Tom Sorensen)

With the power and momentum of a runaway locomotive speeding to Philadelphia for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in June, Alex Tuch picked the right time for a breakout season.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Baldwinsville, N.Y., always had the physical attributes NHL teams covet, but the Syracuse Stars minor hockey graduate has now added the kind of pure production (20 goals and 38 points in 34 games) necessary for a first-round draft grade to his résumé.

 

THE ALEX TUCH FILE

 
Born: May 12, 1996 Shoots: R

Size: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds

Hometown: Baldwinsville, N.Y.

Parents: Carl and Sharon Tuch

Current team: U.S. NTDP Under-18

Previous teams: Syracuse Stars. “I played for them since I was 5 years old, and it was a great program for my development. I always had great coaching and benefited from the best competition in New York State.”

What’s next: Commitment to Boston College (Hockey East). “BC has always been my dream school. I can remember watching them in the Frozen Four (in 2001) when I was 6 years old. It took me a while to get their attention, but I’m excited for the chance to play there.”

CSS mid-term rank: 21 NA

Scouting report: Massive power forward has every physical tool in the kit: an enormous frame and strength, long reach, powerful skating stride and booming shot. Shields the puck and is dominant on the cycle. Displays surprisingly soft hands and finishing skills around the net. Lightning-quick release on a hard shot; can find the back of the net from just about anywhere around the faceoff circles.

Draft outlook: It’s hard to conceive that the NHL’s 30 teams will let Tuch slip out of the first round, but whether he goes 15-20 or later is the question he’ll have to answer in the coming months.

IN HIS OWN WORDS
Areas to address: “I just think every skill or area is something I can improve, whether it’s the skating, puck work, positioning in the offensive and D-zones. … I try to put in the work to improve as much as I can. I also have to keep my intensity high; if I’m laid back, I’m not as effective.”

Favorite NHL team, player: Buffalo Sabres, Tim Connolly

Players he tries to pattern game after:
Eric Staal, Jordan Staal

Coach’s Corner: “Alex fits the style of play of a John LeClair or Kevin Stevens in terms of his contributions and impact. He’s really matured this season and is doing a great job the team.” — Danton Cole, coach, U.S. NTDP U18 team

“I’m a big, strong, skilled power forward with good vision who can play all areas of the ice,” Tuch told New York Hockey Journal recently.

With forwards who possess the size and skill to not only score, but also control the tempo of a game, in high demand, Tuch could use his immense potential as a springboard to push for top-15 consideration before all is said and done.

“He’s such a great player,” said U.S. NTDP teammate and fellow Boston College recruit Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.). “When he goes into the corners or takes pucks to the net, there aren’t many guys out there who can match up to him.”

With fine straight-line speed and surprising agility for such a big kid, Tuch has a fearsome shot and a natural nose for the net that he’s been able to employ to nice effect this season, after admittedly struggling with the adjustment on the national Under-17 team a year ago.

“I’m playing a different role this season,” Tuch said. “My confidence is a lot higher and I recognize how far I’ve come. Even though I’m a long way from (where I was) last year, I’m not looking too far ahead.”

U.S. Under-18 coach Danton Cole said that the production this season has not been all that surprising, given his talent and pedigree coming out of his home state.

“The scoring (this year) has kind of been a part of his evolution,” Cole said. “With his hands and skills, especially for a big kid, he’s always had that (offensive) potential.”

Tuch grew up a few houses away from former NHLer Tim Connolly, and decided at an early age that pro hockey was the path he wanted to follow. Thus far, he’s taken the kind of journey that should maximize his prodigious natural gifts.

Watch for him to take his first steps toward an NHL career when he walks on stage during the first round of the draft a few months from now.

N.Y./N.J. 2014 NHL Draft Prospects: Top 5 for February

1. Sonny Milano, LW, U.S. NTDP (Massapequa, N.Y.), 5-foot-11, 183 pounds

Central Scouting mid-term rank: 16 NA

Poetry in motion does not even begin to describe what Milano can do with the puck in open ice, even as rest of his game catches up.

2. Alex Tuch, RW, U.S. NTDP, (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), 6-foot-4, 215 pounds

Central Scouting mid-term rank: 21 NA

3. Tony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia (OHL) (Sewell, N.J.), 5-foot-11, 170 pounds

Central Scouting mid-term rank: 10 NA

We love the pure offensive skills and production; it’s the defense that has room for improvement, but no doubting the upside here.

4. Ryan Hitchcock, LW, U.S. NTDP (Manhasset, N.Y.), 5-foot-11, 170 pounds

Central Scouting mid-term rank: 95 NA

Cerebral forward is versatile and plays with energy; another solid mid-round bet for the draft.

5. Kevin Labanc, RW, Barrie (OHL) (Staten Island, N.Y.), 5-foot-11, 186

Central Scouting mid-term rank: 88 NA

Former NTDP standout is rounding into form for the Colts and brings nice skill, creativity to the mix.

Twitter: @kluedeke29
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