Knights On Ice’s 2019-20 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. Six Knights On Ice writers created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that forms the final ballot.
The final two players in our Top 25 Under 25 series were separated by just one point in the composite voting, as both received multiple first-place votes. But coming up just short and finishing second on the list is winger Alex Tuch.
Tuch has been a gift to the Vegas organization since he first became a Golden Knight. He was one of the gems George McPhee stole during the expansion draft process, and he’s quickly developed into a young stud with significant untapped potential.
Originally selected by the Wild in the first round (No. 18 overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Tuch is coming off his second full season in the NHL. He set career highs with 20 goals and 32 assists for 52 points in 74 games. He now has 35 goals and, fittingly, 89 points in 158 career regular-season games with Minnesota and Vegas.
No. 2: Alex Tuch
Age: 23 (May 10, 1996)
Size: 6-foot-4, 222 pounds
Tuch is a rare breed in today’s NHL.
His massive 6-foot-4, 222-pound frame is imposing, yet he’s surprisingly fast. He uses his skating, size and power very effectively, and it often allows him to completely dominate the game.
He did just that for the Knights last year, particularly early on.
It’s easy to forget that the Knights got off to a rough start in Year 2, failing to go above .500 until a five-game win streak to close out November. Tuch had at least a point in every one of those games, recording three goals and eight points in that stretch.
Vegas managed 10 wins between Oct. 24 (Tuch’s season debut) and the end of November; Tuch scored a point in nine of them. He also managed a nine-game point streak from the end of December through Jan. 12, collecting three goals and 11 points in that time.
For much of the first half of the season, Tuch put the team on his back and took over. He scored 35 points in 37 games from Nov. 8 through the All-Star break.
However, his production took a significant hit from there.
In fact, from the beginning of February through the end of the regular season, Tuch scored just 12 points in 30 games.
That was partly because his role was diminished with the acquisition of Mark Stone, though his initial slump preceded the trade — he was already 12 games into a 14-game goalless drought when Stone first donned the black and gold in a Feb. 26 game against the Stars.
Having said that, it was still an impressive sophomore campaign for the Syracuse, New York native, who emerged as a true game-changer for Vegas.
Scoring 20 goals is always an admirable feat, especially considering his role and linemates fluctuated frequently. Plus, he tied for the team lead in game-winning goals with six.
Tuch’s 59.57 Goals For percentage and 59.65 High-Danger GF% at 5v5 were notable, as were many of his rate-based metrics.
Alex Tuch 2018-19 stats at even strength (min. 200 minutes)
It’s sometimes hard to believe that Tuch is just 23 years old.
Perhaps it’s the beard, though it’s more likely his overall swagger on the ice that makes him seem like a seasoned pro.
Fortunately for Vegas, Tuch will be a core member of this team for many years to come. His extremely team-friendly seven-year deal kicks in starting this season, and it will keep him under contract at an AAV of just $4.75 million through the 2025-26 season.
Much remains up in the air regarding his linemates for 2019-20. With Nikita Gusev and Erik Haula out of the picture, it seems he’ll play with some combination of Cody Eakin, Cody Glass, Brandon Pirri and perhaps Valentin Zykov. He won’t get top-six minutes (barring injury), which could limit his output.
He will have some added responsibility, however, as Gerard Gallant intends to use Tuch on the penalty kill this year. Tuch will inject some new energy into a short-handed unit that ranked 14th in the NHL last season but will be without Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Carpenter moving forward.
At the end of the day, Vegas needs more production from its third line, so Tuch will be looked to for secondary scoring. He has all the tools to become an elite power forward in this league, it’s just a matter of whether he can put it all together and sustain it.
Previously in Vegas Golden Knights Preseason 2019 Top 25 Under 25:
- Introduction and honorable mentions
- No. 25, Peter Diliberatore
- No. 24, Xavier Bouchard
- No. 23, Brandon Kruse
- No. 22, Keegan Kolesar
- No. 21: Jack Dugan
- No. 20, Isaiah Saville
- No. 19, Layton Ahac
- No. 18, Jake Leschyshyn
- No. 17, Nicolas Roy
- No. 16, Valentin Zykov
- No. 15, Ivan Morozov
- No. 14, Kaedan Korczak
- No. 13, Pavel Dorofeyev
- No. 12, Dylan Coghlan
- No. 11, Ben Jones
- No. 10, Jonas Rondbjerg
- No. 9, William Carrier
- No. 8, Zach Whitecloud
- No. 7, Jimmy Schuldt
- No. 6, Lucas Elvenes
- No. 5, Peyton Krebs
- No. 4, Nicolas Hague
- No. 3, Cody Glass