The power forward left Boston College after two seasons and now he’s trying to make a lasting impression on the Minnesota Wild.
The college season is just starting off, with a ton of exhibition games and a couple real ones. What can we learn from the pre-season games? Tough to say. Patrick Harper (Nashville) went off for Boston University with five goals and seven points in a 10-1 destruction of P.E.I. for example, but we can’t expect that on a nightly basis in Hockey East, can we? Elsewhere, Michigan’s offense took a hit when Cooper Marody (Philadelphia) was declared academically ineligible for the first semester. The problem stems from a bout with mononucleosis that hurt his class time. But let’s get on to the list. Here are some of the other players making noise in the prospect world right now.
Alex Tuch, RW (Minnesota): Whether Tuch starts the season in the NHL or the AHL, it won’t be long before he makes an impact. At 6-foot-4, 222 pounds he’s a load to handle, plus he’s got a big-time shot. And even if he plays the whole season in Iowa, the budding power forward is steadfast about his decision to leave Boston College after two seasons.
“The main thing is, I am going to continue my education,” he said. “But I think I was ready to take that next step in my development and Minnesota is confident that I am too.”
Tuch was snubbed from Team USA’s world junior squad last year, as the national team’s brass wasn’t happy with his first half with Boston College, but he made up for it in the second part of the season and finished with 18 goals and 34 points in 40 games, bettering his freshman numbers.
Perhaps more importantly, Tuch worked on himself both mentally and physically. Unlike many college players, he didn’t need to gain bulk, so the Syracuse, NY native went the other way.
“I leaned out a lot in college,” he said. “I matured both on and off the ice. They said in (Wild) development camp that I took on more of a leadership role. I was in the best shape of my life for camp this year.”
And that Minnesota development camp clearly put him on the right path. Tuch models his game after players such as Rick Nash, David Backes and Corey Perry and that fits right in with a Wild team that just snagged big dudes Eric Staal and Chris Stewart. But immovable objects aren’t the most feared in today’s speedy NHL, so Tuch is bracing for the adjustment in the pro game.
“Everyone says how fast it is, but it’s a controlled speed,” he said. “College is more run-and-gun and that’s something I’ll have to get used to and mould my game to.”
If he can keep up with the big boys, we know he has the size and sniping ability. Now it’s just a matter of how soon the Tuch Show hits prime time.
In the Pipeline
Sam Steel, C (Anaheim): During his draft year, some scouts worried that Steel wasn’t getting the right linemates. But everything’s cool in Regina so far, as the slick center posted seven points in his first two WHL games since Ducks camp. The 2016 first-rounder has put up offense shorthanded, even strength and on the power play, so watch out.
Yegor Korshkov, RW (Toronto): In his second KHL season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Korshkov has soared. The big, physical winger already has nine points in 15 games, nearing his rookie total of 12 in 41 last year. His signature goal so far was this gem and he’s only playing 13:31 per game – so there’s room for more. Toronto got him 31st overall in 2016.
Samuel Montembeault, G (Florida): Blainville-Boisbriand got a huge boost from the Panthers, as Florida assigned the 20-year-old Montembeault back to the QMJHL team. The star netminder will get a good amount of work with the Armada, where he can round out his game further. Taken 77th overall in 2015, the big netminder has great athleticism and poise.
Jordan Kyrou, C (St. Louis): Known for his swiftness and his playmaking, Kyrou is making things happen in Sarnia once again. The 2016 second-rounder has six points in his first three games and if the Sting lose a player or two to the NHL (Jakob Chychrun and/or Travis Konecny, for example), he’ll be even more crucial to the attack.
Brett Murray, LW (Buffalo): A power forward with a very impressive 6-foot-5, 222-pound frame, Murray has taken to the USHL with ease so far. The Penn State commit has four points in his first three games with Youngstown after playing Jr. A with Carleton Place near Ottawa last season.
2017 Draft Stars
Eeli Tolvanen, LW – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL): Tolvanen was named USHL forward of the week and it probably won’t be the last time he earns that accolade this season. The dynamic and feisty Boston College commit had four points in two games, using his wicked release to do damage.
Cal Foote, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL): A smart, mobile defenseman with great size and NHL pedigree (his dad is Adam Foote), Foote has posted four assists in his first five games. He was at Canada’s world junior camp this summer, showing both promise and the need to work on his game, but given the company he was impressive.
Austen Keating, LW – Ottawa 67s (OHL): A nice early surprise in the OHL, Keating is one of the league’s top scorers with 10 points through five games. Vision and hockey sense are his strong suits and he has a nice shot, too – though most of his points have been assists so far.
Cale Makar, D – Brooks Bandits (AJHL): I’ve been a fan of Makar since the World Jr. A Challenge, where he showed a ton of poise as the young’un on Canada West’s blueline, earning a gold medal in the end. The UMass commit has been a point-per-game player for the Bandits through eight games, just as he was last season.
Timo Meier’s shot at a roster spot in San Jose took a big hit this week when the Sharks announced that the talented right winger had mononucleosis (big week for mono, apparently). He’ll be out four weeks with the energy-sapping ailment.