Alex Tuch is the big man on Team USA's top line. He's more than happy to play the favorite at the upcoming world under-18s and can't wait to get to Boston College.
Two CHL regular seasons went into overtime this week – one controversial, one compassionate. In the Ontario League, the Saginaw Spirit had a game rescheduled in the wake of center Terry Trafford’s death, while a knot in eighth place in the Western League set up a tiebreaker between Red Deer and Prince Albert. Red Deer got two points in the Rebels’ final game against an Edmonton team that rested stars Curtis Lazar, Griffin Reinhart and Tristan Jarry. For more from the prospect world, here’s a look at some of the players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
Alex Tuch, RW – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Coming in at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with a heavy power game, Tuch may have had the oddest choice for favorite player growing up: finesse pivot Tim Connolly. Of course, it makes a bit more sense when you know that Connolly’s parents lived next door to Tuch outside of Syracuse, N.Y. and seeing Connolly suit up for the Islanders and Sabres had an effect on young Tuch. And while Connolly played major junior, Tuch is looking forward to playing at Boston College next season.
“I had my official visit two weekends ago,” he said. “I love Boston College, it was my dream school and I wanted to play for a winning program.”
The Eagles certainly qualify there and Tuch even had a fellow NTDP product take him around campus, in freshman defenseman Scott Savage. Along with meeting coaches and trainers, Tuch got to hang out with the boys and do what college kids do: namely, eat at Chipotle. But the big enchilada for the NTDP this season comes in a month with the world under-18s in Finland. Team USA will once again be favored, which is just fine with them.
“Our team really takes pride in that, but we know how talented the other teams are,” Tuch said. “We get pumped up for those games. We can win it and it’s something we look forward to.”
Tuch, who has a blistering shot, good reach and a big presence thanks to his size, is playing on an insane line with Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano and the trio ranks 1-2-3 in team scoring.
“We have a really diverse line,” Tuch said. “We each bring something different to the table.”
But when it all boils down, they’re usually bringing pucks to the net and past the opposing goaltender. And with Tuch’s size and shot, Hockey East goalies are going to be on high alert next season. Draft eligible in 2014.
Teuvo Teravainen, C – Jokerit (Fin.)
After an exemplary world juniors, the only question surrounding Teravainen was “when will we see him over here?” Now that Jokerit has been eliminated from the playoffs in Finland, the answer may be “soon.” Teravainen is an incredible playmaker who has made a nice transition from winger to center and would look awesome on a line with Patrick Kane. Drafted 18th overall by Chicago in 2012.
Madison Bowey, D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The Rockets have churned out NHL defensemen for years now, but Bowey did something this season that eluded Shea Weber, Tyler Myers and Tyson Barrie: He scored 20 goals. The big blueliner is a great skater and scorer and now holds the Kelowna record with 21, beating Barrie’s old mark of 19. Drafted 53rd overall by Washington in 2013.
Michael Dal Colle, LW – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
The Gens nabbed themselves the No. 1 seed in the Ontario League’s Eastern Conference and Dal Colle was the offensive catalyst. Finishing the season as the highest-scoring OHLer available in the draft, the big and talented winger notched 39 goals and 95 points in 67 games. Mississauga awaits in the first round. Draft eligible in 2014.
Mike Reilly, D – University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten)
The Big Ten handed out its first-ever awards this week and Reilly took home the nod as best defensive player – an accolade open to both blueliners and forwards. The mobile defenseman led all conference rearguards in scoring with eight goals and 29 points in 36 games. Drafted 98th overall by Columbus in 2011.
Alexis Vanier, D – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
The Drakkar outlasted Halifax to earn the top seed in the Quebec League playoffs and draw Shawinigan for their efforts. Vanier in turn, gets a chance to shine under pressure. A massive blueliner whose shot has been compared to Sheldon Souray’s, Vanier also moves pretty well but must work on his agility. Draft eligible in 2014.
Brian Ferlin, RW – Cornell Big Red (ECAC)
Fast and great with the puck, Ferlin was crucial for Cornell in the conference quarterfinal, scoring the only goal in a clinching victory over Clarkson. The Big Red now head to Lake Placid, where they will take on Union in the ECAC semifinal while Colgate tangles with Quinnipiac. Drafted 121st overall by Boston in 2011.
Sam Brittain, G – University of Denver Pioneers (NCHC)
It’s funny to think of a netminder who is also a psychology major, especially because Brittain must have been in Nebraska-Omaha’s collective heads on the weekend. The Pios senior stoned the Mavs twice in a row, giving up just one goal in two games as Denver rebounded to take the series 2-1 and stamp a pass to the NCHC’s first-ever Frozen Faceoff final four. Drafted 92nd overall by Florida in 2010.
Kevin Fiala, RW – HV 71 (SHL)
Fiala’s HV 71 squad earned their way into the Swedish League quarterfinal by beating Leksand in a play-in series and the Swiss winger was huge, with four points in three games. Skilled and tenacious (one scout called him “an artist”), Fiala has one point in his team’s current series against Skelleftea, which HV 71 trails 2-0. Draft eligible in 2014.
Alec Dillon, G – Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
At 6-foot-5, it’s not hard to see why NHL scouts are intrigued by Dillon. He’s already got the frame to be the archetypal modern goaltender, plus he brings a competitive spirit and level head to the crease. With the Grizzlies in the thick of the playoffs, the RPI commit leads the B.C. League with a 2.02 goals-against average, while his .931 save percentage ranks second. Draft eligible in 2014.