Alex Tuch started the year with the Chicago Wolves and got four points, including a hat trick, in his first game. He followed it up with another goal two games later, before getting called up to the NHL.
Now with the Vegas Golden Knights, he’s got 21 points in 39 games, including nine goals, on a 9.6 shooting percentage. Pretty good for a rookie.
It’s the underlying numbers that prove how impressive Tuch has been this season, though. The majority (17) of his points have been primary, either first assists or goals. He’s generated 1.58 primary points per 60 minutes, according to Corsica.Hockey. He has a 51.7 Corsi For percentage, a 64.52 percent goal-share and has the ninth-best (among Golden Knights) Corsi For rated by quality of competition at even strength, coming in at 49.86 percent. Those are all excellent numbers and they show the impact Tuch has had throughout the season, especially in terms of possession.
Tuch has also been great for his line with Cody Eakin and Brendan Leipsic. With and without Tuch, two separate pictures are painted. With Tuch, the line has a 54.26 percent shot share, 53.33 percent goal share, 53.23 high-danger chance share and a .931 on-ice save percentage (all at even strength). Those stats according to Natural Stat Trick. Without Tuch, Eakin and Leipsic have played 42 minutes in 34 games. They are nowhere near the level of play that they are at with Tuch. Their shot share falls to 39.58 percent, goal share falls to just 25 percent, the combo only gets 42.86 percent of high-danger chances and the on-ice save percentage is .897. That’s all while starting at nearly the same rate in the offensive zone.
This shows that Tuch isn’t just important offensively, though that’s where the young power forward is making his name, but defensively as well. The goal share and high-danger chance share with and without Tuch prove it.
To go along with all of that, Tuch has a great turnover ratio — 33 takeaways to 15 giveaways (2.2 takeaways per giveaway).
That ratio is in the top 50 in the league, tied at 38, and is second on the Golden Knights roster, behind only Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and ahead of Tomas Nosek, who are both considered responsible with the puck. And so should Tuch.
Tuch has come a long way from where he began this year. He averaged 14:33 to start the season, and after adding three points in his first two games, had four in his next eight games.
Since then, Tuch has averaged 14:39 and has added points in 13 of 29 further games. Where he only had three assists in his first ten games, Tuch has become a much more reliable playmaker, hitting that same total in the last five games before the bye week.
Tuch has also played himself into a more permanent role on the power play. When Tuch is able to provide a solid screen, there’s no one better on the Golden Knights roster. With his size, 6-foot-4, 222 pounds, that’s not a surprise.
Screens were something he was able to provide in his brief stint in Chicago, and they are something that’s been needed on the Vegas power play. His positioning in front of the net has so far allowed Tuch to score two power-play goals of his own. Tuch just needs to develop a mean streak to become a more reliable screen.
There have also been moments where Tuch has shown excellent speed or excellent hands. For a power forward, those skills are icing on the cake.
That’s why Tuch looks like the modern variation of the power forward — somebody who can put on some speed and crash the net hard. He’s an intimidating presence and can use that to get past defenders and put the puck on net.
After all, Tuch generates 2.4 shots per game and has only gone without a shot five times. He had at least one shot in every game between Dec. 17 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the bye week.
Tuch is a physical specimen. At 21, he’s a player who will only continue to learn and get more confident in his game, especially after his rookie season. Tuch already makes his line better and has grown into a prominent screen on the power play. He’s become a better passer as the season has gone on and continues to take care of the puck.
Not a bad return for a third-round pick.