ST. PAUL —
Since being drafted in the first round by the Wild two years ago, forward Alex Tuch
has grown and matured as a college hockey player. This year, Tuch will make the jump to the professional ranks after signing with the Wild after his sophomore season at Boston College.
Participating in his third Development Camp this week at Xcel Energy Center, Tuch has assumed more of a leadership role, both because of his experience at the camp, but also as a newly-minted pro.
“Third and fourth-year guys have to have more of a veteran presence,” Tuch said. “It really shows out there on the ice and off the ice, just bringing the new guys in, especially the new draft picks.”
Selected 18th overall by Minnesota in the 2014 NHL Draft, Tuch has spent the last two seasons honing his skills at Boston College, under legendary coach Jerry York. After scoring 14 goals and 14 assists as a freshman, Tuch saw those numbers increase to 18 goals and 16 assists last season, helping the Eagles to the Frozen Four for the 25th time in school history.
“I think I had a slow start but I think I finished the year strong,” Tuch said. “I wanted to carry that into next year and just thought it was time to make the jump.”
This week has also allowed Tuch to meet new Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau for the first time.
Boudreau’s message to Tuch and the rest of the club’s prospects on Tuesday was work ethic and the level of effort that will be expected of them through the minor-league system all the way to the top.
Tuch has already bought in and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Wild’s management.
“You just see the growth and the way he handles himself off the ice,” said Wild Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr. “His confidence level, he’s stronger and quicker and he’s blessed with a lot of natural tools. But he works very hard off the ice and he’s very driven to be an NHL player.”
While he is expected to compete for a roster spot with Minnesota during training camp, the current make-up of the roster will likely dictate Tuch beginning his professional career in Des Moines with the Iowa Wild, under new coach Derek Lalonde.
Through the first few days of camp, Lalonde has put Tuch on a line with Sam Anas, another player who played in the college ranks last season. Together, Lalonde said he hopes the two playmakers can feed off each other and make the other better, and in turn, make Iowa a winner.
“Brent and I sat down and talked about what our lineup could look like, potentially, in Des Moines and in Traverse City [at the Prospect’s Tournament in September],” Lalonde said. “I’ve really liked what I’ve seen.”
Tuch has always kept a focus on taking things one step at a time. This week’s camp and the prospect’s tournament in Traverse City are his next short-term steps as he strives to reach his long-term goal.
“I just gotta come out and play my game, produce and work really hard,” Tuch said. “You want to make a good impression wherever you are and this is a good start. It’s all stepping stones to earning a spot on the team [in Minnesota].”