Our 2018-19 Vegas Golden Knights Report Cards are coming to an end as we get to Alex Tuch, who truly burst onto the NHL scene in emphatic fashion last year.
Alex Tuch: Grade A
We have reached the penultimate edition of our 2018-19 Vegas Golden Knights Report Cards series, and it is a good one as we focus on Alex Tuch who enjoyed one hell of a year in Sin City.
After being acquired by the Vegas Golden Knights from the Minnesota Wild in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, Alex Tuch thrived in a new environment and hugely benefitted from a change of scenery following a plus/minus rating of -3 in six games for the Wild.
He relished being part of a group of players who had a rather large chip on their shoulders, finishing his debut year in Sin City with 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points, in addition to 10 power play points and a further 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 20 postseason contests.
However, that proved to be a tantalising preview for what was to come as Tuch exploded offensively in 2018-19, carving out a career-year in fine style. He was at the very peak of his powers and flourished on a second-line alongside Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty for 21.52 percent of the season, while he also succeeded when dropped down to the third-line following the arrival of Mark Stone at the NHL Trade Deadline.
Blessed with skill, good puck-handling abilities, a wicked release and size at 6’4″ and 220 lbs, Tuch is fast developing into a high-end two-way forward for the Golden Knights and, at just 23-years-old, he has plenty of room to grow and learn his craft further.
Very much the heartbeat of the Knights’ offense last year, Tuch finished 2018-19 with career-highs in goals (20), assists (32), points (52), plus/minus (+13), PIM (35), game-winning goals (6) and shots (180). The right shot also posted a 54.7 CF% and a 56.9 oZS%, which were both career-highs.
He also thrived in the defensive zone, playing a solid 200-foot game and dishing out 92 hits, blocking 40 shots and helping himself to 69 takeaways, while he was relied upon a lot as backed up by his average of 16:44 minutes of ice time per night.
Not only that, but Tuch’s prowess on the ice combined with his ability to stay out of the penalty box earned him 30 votes for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player who “exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
And his six game-winning goals, both a career-high and tied for best on the team, highlights just how instrumental Tuch has become for the Knights, coupled with the fact that he’s shown he’s built for the big moments and can come up clutch when the pressure is really on.
Under contract through 2025-26, Tuch will continue to be a key piece on this Stanley Cup contender and with his prime years still ahead of him, the ceiling looks incredibly high and 2018-19 could well just be the sign of things to come from the 18th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.