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It’s Time For Alex Tuch To Crack The Top Six

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you’ve watched every Golden Knights game or just a few over the past four years, you’ve seen the talent level of Alex Tuch. It’s tough to miss. He’s big, fast, and incredibly skilled. Three attributes many NHL players weren’t born with.

After 255 games played with Vegas, it’s hard not to wonder if Tuch’s been used properly. A clear top-six forward on most NHL teams, the 25-year-old has been largely relegated to an inconsistent third line with no identity for four straight seasons. So when will the organization, coach Pete DeBoer, and Tuch himself, decide to make that leap and become a top scoring option for Vegas?

I’ve taken on a role of being able to move up and down the lineup. Honestly, it isn’t my decision whether or not I’m playing on the first two lines or the second two lines. I come here to do a job and that’s to play hockey and to do that to the best of my abilities. Whatever management, coaching staff feel where I should slot in the lineup that’s their decision and I’m never going to complain about that. -Alex Tuch, 06/26/21

I know he’s considered the seventh forward in the top six but it’s fair to argue if Tuch were given more shifts and better linemates he would become Vegas’ most lethal threat. I’m not ignoring Max Pacioretty’s natural ability to net pucks but Tuch is bigger, younger, and possesses a nasty release as well.

Perhaps the Misfit line’s chemistry is too consistent to break up. However, after back-to-back premature playoff exits, it’s possible there will be some roster shuffling. I’m not advocating trading a reliable two-way forward like Reilly Smith to shake things up, but to collect assets, cap relief, and create roster space it might made sense, especially with Tuch waiting in the wings.

Smith has proven that he can play at an elite level, skating both ways responsibly and leading on and off the ice. Toss in that his contract expires after the 2021-22 season, yeah, he’s a player most GM’s would have interest in.

Smith is a 0.72 points per game player in Vegas and #89 has averaged 0.56 PPG over his career. With more ice time, Tuch could match or exceed the alternate captain’s production.

I’m going to try and do my job to the best of my abilities. I’m going to continue to grow but that doesn’t mean I’m not competitive, that doesn’t mean I’m complacent about where I am. -Tuch, 06/26/21

The biggest knock on Tuch is his inability or willingness to use his size and play more physically. It’s rare when the 6’4″ winger bullies his way to the net like Mark Stone, or mixes it up after a whistle like Jonathan Marchessault, or drops an opponent like Brayden McNabb. Of course, there were instances in the playoffs but there’s no choice when it’s a street fight every night. The 220 pound forward has the size and strength to do it all, plus score 25+ goals per season.

Another concern for the organization is Tuch’s lack of production in the postseason. He totaled four goals in 19 postseason games, scoring one goal in the Colorado series and getting skunked (like Stone) against Montreal in the semifinals. Last year he posted seven goals in the first eight playoff games and the three round-robin, but followed it up with just one in the final nine games of 2020.

I do want to become more successful individually but I also want to help my team as much as possible.-Alex Tuch, 06/26/21

Tuch is a dream player to any NHL franchise. He’s charismatic, a great teammate, and was early to buy into Vegas’ system. After four seasons, it’s time for the now veteran Golden Knight to get a little more hungry. It’s inexcusable for a player with his size, skill, and speed to spend his mid-twenties on a third line.

Now is the time to see what Tuch can do on an established line with a real center.

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43 Comments

  1. Mikegron32

    I will get roasted for saying this but I think Tuch is a guy you look to trade this offseason. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you try and trade someone at their highest value. I believe Tuch is at that point right now. The question is how much higher you think his ceiling is? He’s a guy that makes one or two “wow” plays a game and looks so good with that size and speed. However, he’s not a good puck handler, his shot accuracy is horrible, he’s not power play or penalty kill specialist, and I do believe he will constantly be prone to injury just based on the wreckless style he skates.
    If you could move Tuch & Theo just think of the haul you could get. Any 1C out there would immediately be in play. Resign Marty, Janmark, and expect a young Krebs to replace Tuch.

    • THE hockey GOD

      agree with you, package him with 81 and 29 – what’s his name ? Billy Buckner.

      maybe tuch will learn to elevate the puck,and show up for work in semi finals

      • Contact Tracer

        What a bullshit reply about Fleury you moron. Fleury has a fucking aircraft carrier load more class than your grandstanding ass! If VGK scored SOME goals when needed the mistake would have been a non-issue.

      • thg – I think you meant to say package him with 81 and 90 the Walrus. was it you who said TBay in 5? It was pretty interesting how T bay handled the cap situation – good financial management on their part.

        • THE hockey GOD

          yes i said TB in five, I would keep the walrus since he is younger than 29 and allow a tandem of logan and walrus in goal for next few years. Fleury is too old to stick around and why not trade him when his value is high? Knowing the owners love affair with stupid decisions I doubt very much Fleury is going anywhere. But that would be the smart move to make. And yes I agree the TB Muckers , who pay in the hot humid Florida weather , and bad ice more often than not did an excellent job. Much better job than Vegas FO/ Management. Did you hear how many times the NBC NHL experts said things like “nice to start the new period with FRESH SHEET OF ICE”. Or how bad the ice was “It was chippy, the puck is not staying on players stick.”

          BIM – bad ice matters.

          Also did you hear the TB player dis Vegas in post game interview , and the HAB fans too. IT was GREAT !

    • ulf

      Agreed – if VGK doesn’t win in the next 1-2 seasons it’s rebuild time anyway. Prospect pool is very thin and most of the players on the roster aside from Tuch and Theo are at their prime or more likely past it (especially in the case of Patches).

      Moving Tuch and Theo and picks for a 1C would be great if there’s a deal to be had. Build around that.

    • knights fan in minny

      not many teams trade number 1 centers

  2. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Good writeup Jason.

    I’ve been preaching Tuch as a top 6 for a long time. IF he has been playing with more talented line mates, I think his stats would be much higher than they are.

    I don’t know what to do with the current top 6 right now, except to trade one and get a tuff center? To me Smith is the best option to get us something valuable in return.

    But who knows what is in the minds of the McGMs? None of us here knows, that’s for sure, although their are those who will write comments, as if, they do know!

  3. Tim

    I’m done speculating I think maybe the only sure bet is Lehner gets traded. To my knowledge there aren’t any # 1 centers available and anyone that has one isn’t going to trade him. My only thought was trade Tuch and Theadore plus a draft pick if necessary for Leon Draisitl and hope Glass and Krebs come around. Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel wouldn’t be my choice but with our management team who knows what there thinking. Mike I agree Theodore is way overrated and Tuch doesn’t use his size to his advantage. I think it’s a given without a #1 center were not getting to the promised land. Picking up fringe players will keep us competitive but thats about it.

  4. sb

    Move Tuch to the first or second line? Absolutely not. A key to winning the Cup is keeping Tuch right where he is on the third line and GET HIM A TALENTED CENTER AND WINGER. Who is that center? Stephenson. And Roy, while good, is not nearly good enough. What is that you don’t get? To win the Cup you need THREE scoring lines, not TWO, think: Tampa. That’s exactly VGK’s problem now. Not enough scoring depth. Tuch’s third line should be manned with talented players who can then decimate any third line in the NHL. The third can win alot of games each year by walking over the line it competes against. Trading away one of the top 6 and putting Tuch in that spot doesn’t add anything. It may be neutral, but it’s not an add. You keep the top 6 and get Tuch two talented players for a third line. Not six talented players – NINE. What? VGK are going to defeat Minn, Colo and Tampa with only TWO scoring lines. CRAZY! Trade/buyout Fleury/Reaves/Holden. Don’t resign Nosek and Janmark. That gets the $10 mil for Eichel. Give Buffalo three first rounders plus Krebs and Dugan. Move Stephenson to the Tuch line. A team that wants to get better doesn’t do so by subtracting. It keeps adding the right players. This article is crazy.

    • Mike StG

      sb – agree 100% on the 3rd line comments. ButI’m not on board with Eichel, esp in view of his neck injuries and that uncertainty. In other formats I’ve heard that Preds may be looking to move Johansen (so they don’t lose him for nothing in the expansion draft), and maybe Monahan or Barkov might be possibilities. I’d take any of those 3 to fill a 1C or 2C role, which would move Stevie to 3C.

      But under no circumstances would I support trading Krebs or Dugan. In a relatively thin group of prospects they are the 2 with the biggest ceiling.

  5. Arnold Rothstein

    pauli is such a loser he
    is only one who gets one star on yelp reviews when everyone else is five stars

  6. Mark

    Yes I totally agree with all the comments on this article. Alex Tuch is truly and honestly NOT that good. If your a great hockey player then you elevate the game of the people around you. Like Pacioretty & Stone do with Chandler Stephenson, they make Stephenson look good because Stoney & Patches are elite players. Stephenson is a 3rd line center but he looks good out there between Patches & Stone. If Tuch were sooo good, he’d elevate the games of Roy & Janmark and make them look good too but his puck handling skills & his shot ability is garbage. The truth is Tuch is an “average and ok player”, so I’d trade him with Lehner and get a #1 center. You have more then enough prospects from the last 3 entry drafts to back fill the 3rd & 4th lines. Move Krebs up, move Logan Thompson up. Fleury said he’ll take a reduced salary if given an extension so you keep Fleury and move his salary down to $5 a year from $7 and trade Lehner. Then you’ll have cap space to go spend!

    • Al Bundy of Hockey

      You hit the nail on the head. He doesn’t elevate anyone around him because can’t PASS. He had more goals this season than tape to tape passes. He is incredibly skilled and obviously has size / speed but the game is about working as a 3 man / 5 man unit. Pass the puck and then work hard to get open and get it back. Sure he’ll break free here or there and skates like the wind which will get top dollar in a trade but his hockey IQ / team play is very low. He’d benefit tremendously from a coach that recognizes this and has him play small area games in practice over and over and over. I’d add that a guys with his size / skill / speed should be a lock for the pp (front of net) and definitely the pk but really doesn’t / can’t play either. Connect the dots.

  7. Lara

    The biggest knock on Tuch has nothing to do with his physicality. It’s his inability to consistently put the puck on net. If he could do that, he’d be scoring plenty on the third line.

  8. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    I think we are up to around 12 of the current roster should be traded.

    As I mentioned before, this IS the “silly season”, and it’s surely reflected here.

    We can’t, and shouldn’t, trade them all folks.

    Oh well, about 3 more weeks of this “stuff”, before things start to pop for real. Man, can’t wait! ha ha

  9. Richard Santomauro

    Wow, some of the comments are over the top crazy. Line 1 is already at or “over the hill”. You do not shed younger talent on the 2nd or 3rd lines unless you are going to get an upgrade at the same age. Tuch’s lack of production could be TOI and him being on line 3. He has the skills, size and youth. It’s time!

    So, with Smith’s contract expiring at the end of next year, it makes sense to shop him, Lehner, Reaves, and Holden.

    NOTES: https://www.spotrac.com/nhl/vegas-golden-knights/

    1-Pacioretty will be an UFA in 2023. How much meat is left on that bone? With Krebs likely ready, it is a good time to make this move and put him on line 3 in place of Tuch.

    2-Tuch is under contract through 2025 at a bargain 4.75million. Trading him is completely off the table at this point. You definitely consider moving Pacioretty this year or next with Tuch the obvious replacement. Maybe this year Pacioretty is more limited to the PP and line 3 with Tuch on line 1?

    3-Trade Lehner and resign Fleury at the end of next season for less money. He’s getting $7m now, offer him a 2 year deal at $5m and bring up Logan Thompson as a back up.

    • Mike StG

      Richard,

      I agree with #3.

      On #1 doesn’t make sense. You suggest putting Patch on L3 in place of Tuch? He’s the team’s leading goal scorer, by a lot. Why would you give him less ice time? Also Patch is LW and Tuch is RW. You can’t interchange them.

      On #2 also doesn’t compute, for same reason as #1. Unless you want to put Tuch on his off wing (left). He can’t play RW because Stone is there. And if you put Patch on LW3 then who plays RW3?

      • Richard Santomauro

        Getting Tuch into the top 6 is tough isn’t it. Maybe the best option then is to beef up line 3.

  10. Willy Andara

    I pretty sure the reason why they won’t trade Lehner is fearing where he could end up. How would the fans feel if he ended up being the #1 goalie in Colorado or San Jose? Even if they say we won’t trade him to those teams, remember Martin Jones was supposed to be safely away from the Kings when they shipped him to Boston, only to see the Bruins flip him to San Jose. I think both teams make a lot of sense for Lehner considering their goalie situations and cap space, especially if Grubauer doesn’t sign with the Avs.

    • Why would anyone be concerned about the walrus being a number 1 goalie anywhere. First off it really wouldn’t matter what the fans think vegas would be out from under a problem they didn’t need in the first place. The biggest problem is finding a taker which is a huge challenge. Why do you think he was never kept by previous teams? He certainly is not the future for vegas.

    • Richard Santomauro

      Nashville might be a good trade partner, Lehner for Jankrok or picks. They have to pick up the tab though.

  11. Richard Santomauro

    Alec Martinez UFA 34 D 6′ 1″ 209 $4,000,000 keep, but at what price

    Mattias Janmark UFA 28 C 6′ 1″ 195 $2,250,000 keep, but at what price

    Tomas Nosek UFA 29 LW 6′ 2″ 205 $1,250,000 has value, shop him

    Carl Dahlstrom UFA 26 D 6′ 4″ 231 $850,000 keep – like his size, try him on line 4 gets a shot to make the 2021 roster

    Dylan Sikura UFA 26 C 5′ 11″ 166 L $750,000 keep, played well, young upcoming Center, gets a shot to make the 2021 roster

    Dylan Coghlan RFA 23 D $716,666 keep him, young, talented and possible 2021 or 2022 roster

    Gage Quinney UFA 26 LW $700,000 good player, has value, not much NHL level play

    Tomas Jurco UFA 28 RW 6′ 2″ 193 $700,000, played extremely well when called up, has some size, possible 4th line replacement for Reaves

    Oscar Dansk UFA 27 G 6′ 3″ 204 L $700,000 already gone

    Daniel O’Regan UFA 27 C 5′ 10″ 180 $700,000 long in the tooth, not much NHL experience

    Patrick Brown UFA 29 LW 6′ 1″ $700,000 played extremely well when called up, another possible replacement for Nosek or Reaves

    Tyrell Goulbourne UFA 27 LW 5′ 11″ $700,000 I know nothing about this guy

    Reid Duke UFA 25 C $700,000 still young, played well on the Silver Knights this year

    Nick DeSimone UFA D $700,000 I know nothing about this guy

    Jimmy Schuldt UFA 26 D 6′ 1″ 205 $700,000 Definitely a candidate to make the 2021 roster in place of McNabb, Holden or Theodore.

    • Mike StG

      Richard,

      Can’t shop Nosek. He’s a UFA.

      DeSimone was thrown into the 3-way deal for Janmark- necessary to make the transaction ’legal’. He was with SJ Barracuda and I don’t believe he ever even left San Jose.

      Most guys you list as possible L4 Reaves replacements- I think they’d be better off adding L3 scoring (like Kessel) and moving player(s) from L3 to L4 to improve the 4th line. Throwing in AHL players on VGK 4th line just keeps them as anemic or more so with respect to scoring threats. I agree to re-sign the AHL players but let them play on HSK.

      My opinion is Schuldt will sign elsewhere. Don’t see him finding a spot on VGK roster any time soon. Both Hague and Coghlan are ahead of him, and if they extend Marty there’s definitely no room for him.

      • THE hockey GOD

        i see Jimmy SChuldt as a replacement for Holder, or Holden, whatever his name is. The guy played lousy in semi finals. Coghlin will probably replace Martinez should he sign elsewhere. Schuldt wanted to come to Vegas, he’s a decent player. IF Martinez stays, I see Holden as leaving, and Schult/Coghlin rotating in and out of lineup for that position.

        Would like to keep Nosek and Martinez. I have no use for rest on list. Didn’t see much from Janmark, I think he only scored one goal ? He seems slow and spent.

  12. Mike StG

    Jason, I don’t support the proposal to trade Reilly. He’s one of the smartest and most consistent players on the team, invaluable on the PK, very good offensively, and Yin to Karlsson’s Yang. Those two work incredibly in tandem, so it would do irreparable damage to Karlsson’s line.

    I also think you may be overestimating Tuch’s abilities. While he’s a great asset to the team, he doesn’t normally face the toughest opposition being on the 3rd line. If he were moved up he would face top pair defensemen and the league’s best forward lines. There’s no reason to believe his production would increase significantly with the additional 4-6 minutes a game on the ice.

    I wouldn’t support trading Tuch under any circumstances, and agree with other posters who think the 3rd line should be improved to give Tuch more scoring opportunities.

    • THE hockey GOD

      this is great from Yahoo “sports” fake news site article

      “The Conn Smythe Trophy choice came down to Tampa Bay Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (32 points) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (five shutouts).

      Vasilevskiy walked away with the award Wednesday, but Kucherov was the MVP of the postgame news conferences after the Lightning won their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

      Showing up for the Zoom session shirtless and drinking a beer, he went on a rant about Vezina Trophy voters and Montreal Canadiens fans.

      Vasilevskiy is a four-time finalist for the goaltending award, but general managers gave it to the Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury this season in a close vote.

      Vasy was outstanding. MVP,” said Kucherov. “I was telling him every day, Vasy MVP. You’re the best player. And they give it to whatever the guy in Vegas, the Vezina. And last year, they gave Vezina to somebody else. No. 1 (expletive). No. 1 (expletive).

      Vasilevskiy gave the Lightning the win in Game 5 with a 22-save shutout. Kucherov was grateful because he didn’t want to go back to Montreal for Game 6.

      “They acted, the fans in Montreal, like they won the Stanley Cup last game,” he said. “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last series.”

      When answering the next question, someone brought him another drink and he pointed out it was Bud Light, not champagne.

      “That’s No. 1 (expletive) again,” he said.

  13. I think he has ton of upside but release is not close to patches, and accuracy is hit and miss. His shot is great but it is very different release , it is more old school wrist shot than a snapper like patches. But I think this could be his breakout year if he works hard on his skills this summer and comes to camp with a few new tricks , I think he could be an amazing puck possession guy if he improvesc on his handling in close quarters. Maybe being able to pull up and create space on some of the rushes when gets driven to corner or behind net. But he is an incredible player , the size speed combo is amazing. Would love go see him get more ice time. And get with another speed guy consistently.
    I think him and stepenson could do some damage

    • Richard Santomauro

      So, possibly Stone, Stephenson and Tuch on line 1….

      • I was thinking more Stephenson ,Tuch and someone else, keep stone with patches and try to find center or give one of the kids a try at camp. Suzuki and the rookie from Wisconsin seem like they are going to stay in NHL for a while , maybe we have a kid ready to make an impact , I don’t know really because didn’t see many hsk games but just a thought anyway. But do think tuch needs to work on his handle and get patches to tutor him on being a sniper lol . should be interesting to see what camp looks like…

        • Richard Santomauro

          Sikura, Glass, Brown and Krebs are definitely options for line 3 and 4 next year.

  14. Bent Hermit

    Some of the things that people are saying that I don’t agree with:

    #1 Tuch doesn’t have the talent to play top 6. This year in the playoffs vs the Wild he filled in for Patches, his off side, and scored 3 goals. Everyone remembers how he was moved to the top line vs Avs in reg season and was key to shutting down McKinnon by using his speed.
    #2 Tuch scoring dries up in the playoffs. So does every other player that’s why they haven’t won a cup. Another Great 1 is he can’t elevate the puck. Every player has holes in their shot. Ovi can only score from his 1 spot on the ice but it doesn’t matter because he’s really fucking good from that spot. Tuch has more goals (19) in the playoffs than Smith(14) and Karlsson(17). He was scoring this playoffs while on the 1st line then only got 1 after moving back to the 3rd. Expecting him to carry the entire bottom 6 is just dumb. I don’t think any of the top 6 would of been able to do what he has with the line mates he has had.
    #3 Tuch isn’t physical and doesn’t go to the net. Granted when he has the puck entering the O zone he’s not as good at taking it to front of the net. He’s 4th on the team for hits from the forwards. When he doesn’t have the puck he gets to the front of the net more than any other of the top 6. Roy’s overtime winner against Montreal doesn’t happen without Tuch driving the net and pulling 2 Dmen with him. Leaving Roy all alone to score.
    #4 Smith is better Defensively. Smith was just plain bad with the puck this year during the playoffs. He lead all forwards with turnovers in the playoffs. Tuch was 2nd for forwards in both the reg and playoffs at take a ways.
    #5 Trading Tuch over Smith does not make the team better. Yes they would get more in return for Tuch which is ok if they were trying to rebuild. Tuch is a better player than Smith and trying to replace Tuch at his cap hit for 5 more years would be really hard to do. Replacing Smith for under 5 mill is a lot easier. There’s 2 UFA’s that would be great fits for under 5 mill. Bonino (26 pt.s) and Stastny( 29 pt.s) would be 2 great adds on the 3rd line with a couple of rookies like Krebs and Dugan. Both can play C or LW which is great for developing Krebs. They are both better defensively than Smith and can still produce offensively. This also gives another experienced C so that a winger isn’t trying to fill in at C. A bonus with those 2 they are really good in front of the net.

  15. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Thanks for all those “expert” thoughts , ya’ll.

    I’ll take them under consideration, before I make any decisions on what to do with the team.

    I mean I might as well do it, because the Knights sure as heck aren’t listening to any of you! 😉

  16. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Gutsy effort by the Habs!

    The big “V” is just too good!

  17. THE hockey GOD

    this is great from Yahoo “sports” fake news site article

    “The Conn Smythe Trophy choice came down to Tampa Bay Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (32 points) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (five shutouts).

    Vasilevskiy walked away with the award Wednesday, but Kucherov was the MVP of the postgame news conferences after the Lightning won their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

    Showing up for the Zoom session shirtless and drinking a beer, he went on a rant about Vezina Trophy voters and Montreal Canadiens fans.

    Vasilevskiy is a four-time finalist for the goaltending award, but general managers gave it to the Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury this season in a close vote.

    Vasy was outstanding. MVP,” said Kucherov. “I was telling him every day, Vasy MVP. You’re the best player. And they give it to whatever the guy in Vegas, the Vezina. And last year, they gave Vezina to somebody else. No. 1 (expletive). No. 1 (expletive).

    Vasilevskiy gave the Lightning the win in Game 5 with a 22-save shutout. Kucherov was grateful because he didn’t want to go back to Montreal for Game 6.

    “They acted, the fans in Montreal, like they won the Stanley Cup last game,” he said. “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last series.”

    When answering the next question, someone brought him another drink and he pointed out it was Bud Light, not champagne.

    “That’s No. 1 (expletive) again,” he said.

  18. B

    Tuch, Smith & Glass for Eichel

  19. Tim

    A new name just entered the rumor mill. Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. What value does Pete DeBoer put on his talent being he coached him for a few years?

  20. Mike StG

    Tim – I’d take Hertl in a heartbeat. Around same cap hit as misfits. Nearly a PPG player. Gritty, physical, good in front of the net, would help PP. Maybe for a pick or prospect, but not a roster player in trade.

    • Tim

      Mike I agree good player he beats the hell out of taking Eichel.

      • Mike StG

        Tim – exactly! I was at that SJS-VAN game in early 2020 when Hertl got injured. It was pretty serious and he missed the rest of the szn, which didn’t turn out to be much with Covid and them not making play-ins or playoffs. He looked good this year, so I guess his knee or leg healed well. Put him in the middle of Stone & Patch and that’s one of the best lines in hockey. Or put him with Tuch + ?? maybe even better – they could dominate playing against other teams’ 3rd lines and 2nd/3rd pair Ds.

  21. THE hockey GOD

    when i fast browsed this article
    i first thought that title said
    Tuch was on crack

    my bad

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