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3rd Line Success Comes Down To Tuch

Will they sign him? Will they trade him? What in the world is going to happen with Nikita Gusev?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That’s just about the only thing anyone wants to talk about regarding the Golden Knights. However, the key to the 3rd line isn’t Nikita Gusev, it’s actually Alex Tuch.

Tuch found himself on the 2nd line for a majority of the year last year, but in the first year, he played mostly on the 3rd line with Cody Eakin. That appears to be where he’ll end up again, and whether it’s with Gusev, Brandon Pirri, or someone else, Tuch’s offense should be enough to make that a solid line.

Alex Tuch – 2017-18
78 Games Played
37 Points (15 goals, 22 assists)
Record w/ Tuch in lineup: 48-23-7
Record when Tuch scores a goal: 12-2-0
Record when Tuch registers a point: 23-7-0
29 Points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 48 VGK wins
8 Points, -12 in 23 VGK losses
4 Game-Winning Goals

Alex Tuch – 2018-19
74 Games Played
52 Points (20 goals, 32 assists)
Record w/ Tuch in lineup: 39-28-7
Record when Tuch scores a goal: 14-5-0
Record when Tuch registers a point: 26-10-2
38 Points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 39 VGK wins
12 Points, -14 in 28 VGK losses
6 Game-Winning Goals

Over his two seasons with Vegas, the 23-year-old has averaged .59 points per game, which jumped significantly to .70 points per game in 2018-19. There’s no reason to believe it won’t increase again. If Tuch can climb close to a point per game than the third line won’t be an issue in 2019-2020 no matter who he plays with.

The growth is there, and so are the expectations. The coaching staff, front office and even Tuch himself know he should be playing in a top-six role line but as of right now, he’s still relegated to the third because of the strength of the Golden Knights lineup.

The question in 2019-20 is whether or not Tuch can continue that upward progression as he heads back to the 3rd line. Or, will the lack of offensive depth hurt his numbers?

If it all falls into place, and the third line can produce 60+ goals without Gusev than George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon will look like mad geniuses.

Or, it’ll look like the 3rd line that forced McPhee to add Tomas Tatar at the deadline in 2018, and they’ll just look mad.


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  1. Vic

    The sky is the limit for him. Big body, fast skater, few penalties and good nose for the net should mean increased production going forward. It’s all up to him how far he goes. If he can calm down a little out there, and focus more on puck control and shooting accuracy, then his star will be brighter. I would love to see what Gusev brings to the table before we have to deal him due to the cap. Gut feeling is he is worth a few extra dollars and getting rid of some players to satisfy the cap. It’s a gamble, but we’re in Las Vegas. Getting some picks if we lose him is not the end of the world, but I want to see him play here.

    • Bob

      Let Holden go go, get Gusef and bring up a couple of youngsters on the defense , might struggle to start but growth will be a great future and current move

  2. Dman

    Pirri scored on a 30 goal pace last season ….12 in 31 games

    Tuch had 20

    Eakin had 22

    Can they do it together as a line? we will see

    but most importantly, how many will the opposition score against them? THAT is what Gallant wants to know.

  3. schmitty 88

    good hands also

  4. Rick Dames

    Agree on all of the above regarding Tuch. Regarding Nikita Gusev, here is my two cents worth. I can’t help but imagine him elsewhere and seeing him put up numbers like his buddy Nikita Kucherov, or Ilya Kovalchuk in his prime. After seeing him in the Worlds and tape of him in the KHL, when I hear words like “the best hockey player in the world not in the NHL” I believe it. Successfully recruiting him and then losing him, while we can control his North American destiny is something we can regret for many years.

    • vgk2018

      Agreed! Especially when it seemingly can be so easily avoided. Either you are in Win Now mode or your not. The teams that get caught in between are usually the ones that get themselves in trouble. Let’s face it, this is a team that overachieved their first year, got bounced in the first round in year two (yes, we did actually lose to SJ) and has to take a step forward in 2019/20 because aging is not going to help them like it will some of their competitors.

      My two cents is this is 100% posturing by GM and he will get a deal done with Gusev…if not, why do you ever trade Haula for a potential 4th liner???

    • Kirk

      McPhee will probably trade him for Martin Erat and Tomas Tatar, and a Nick Holden to be named later

  5. vgk2019

    from NBCsports—

    “Golden Knights could give up a gem if they trade Gusev”

    Vegas is in a vulnerable position; Cap Friendly estimates their space at about $2.675M

    “Vegas? They’re likely to regret trading Gusev to keep players with far less potential”

    “Really, potential poor trade return options might be the key factor that wakes up Vegas to the possibility that they’re risking a big mistake.”


    Bottom line=

    if the Knights move out Reaves and Holden, they would have enough cap space to sign GUSEV, Engelland, and Subban

    • JR

      How much is Carrier’s salary? I’d rather keep Reaves if we could move Holden and Carrier and then sign Gusev.

      • Joe

        Why? They are the same player. Carrier is much younger and costs $725k opposed to Reaves $2.775 mil.
        Then again I say move both and add someone on the 4th line that is cheap and could actually play on the penalty kill.

    • Joe

      Exactly, move them out for 7th round picks. Hell, move them both for a 7th round pick in 2025, I don’t care.
      This line becomes stupid dangerous. Opposing teams will have to zero in defensively on the top two lines leaving Tuch, Eakin, and Gusev to wreak havoc against the dregs of the league. Once teams have to adjust to this line, that opens up more chances for the top 6.

  6. Mark

    I love Tuch, speed on speed. A team guy, upside is still their at 23. Gusev, Eakin and Tuch, I can dream. I have a feeling Gusev could be the difference between The Cup and a contender. Oh man, McPhee, make it happen, that could be an amazing 3rd line, like the best. Go Knights !!

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