After a number of first round talents fell into the second round of this year’s NHL draft, the Montreal Canadiens were given an opportunity at getting a player ranked higher than their 47th overall spot. They elected to go in a different direction, however, selecting Luke Tuch, the younger brother of Vegas Golden Knights player Alex Tuch.
We did not write a pre-draft profile for Tuch in our preparation for this year’s selections, but our sister site at All About the Jersey have you covered.
After the Max Domi for Josh Anderson trade, Marc Bergevin indicated that he felt it was important to get bigger up front. The selection of Tuch fits incredibly well with that goal, as his 6’2” and 203 pound frame will attest. But since Tuch was drafted considerably earlier than his #70 in our consensus rankings, the question is whether he has the skill to go with that size.
It comes as no surprise that he can bully his way around the offensive zone, he’s very strong on the puck, and will win a lot of puck battles. What is somewhat surprising is his agility, which has been noted as impressive considering his size. His offensive output hinges primarily on his ability to get inside, and soft hands to get tips in close.
Overall, skating is an area for improvement, as he has a bit of an awkward stride. But he has good balance, and it isn’t all that surprising that a 6’2” 18-year-old player who hasn’t even grown into his frame would need a little work on that front. If he can add an extra gear and smooth out his stride a little, he projects as a solid two-way power forward that could figure into Montreal’s top-six in the future.
Defensively, he anticipates plays well to create turnovers, and his aforementioned ability to win puck battles is as much a benefit in his own zone as it is on offense. He also played the penalty kill for the US development team, and given that, I really like that his personal penalty minutes totals seem to be trending down significantly over the last few years.
There isn’t a lot of video on Tuch available, but here is a great example of what he can do well.
His team loses the face-off, but he anticipates the play, uses his length to pick off an attempted pass, and leans into a heavy shot for the finish. There’s no flash here, it’s just a very effective combination of anticipation and use of his physical attributes. This is pretty much the book on Tuch — he may not be flashy, but he gets things done in an effective manner.
And that isn’t a bad thing when you have his physical attributes. As long as he can stay well positioned — most scouts make mention of his poisitioning and hockey IQ when talking about him — he doesn’t need to be flashy.
There is very little mention about his shot in scouting profiles, but as you can see in the video above, it’s pretty heavy. He doesn’t have an elite shot, and it would be nice if he could work on that as well, but given that he does a lot of his scoring work in tight, he doesn’t need to be Alexander Ovechkin.
Luke Tuch (47th, MTL): He wasn't on the EliteProspects board. He gets to the front of the net and whacks away. Pesky with occasional flashes of NHL-calibre skill. Pretty pedestrian everywhere else. pic.twitter.com/RcbLmHAj0e— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) October 7, 2020
Not exactly a glowing endorsement from Mr. Brown, but we have to keep in mind that this is not a player expected to come and make an immediate impact in the NHL. He is committed to the NCAA with Boston University for next season, so it will be a few years before we see him get a shot at making the Canadiens roster.
The hope here is that some of those “pedestrian” aspects of his game can take a step up while working with a very strong hockey program in Boston.
The general consensus is that he doesn’t quite have the skill level of his older brother Alex, but he has some scoring ability that he’ll look to refine in the NCAA. The shorter schedule of that league will also benefit him in terms of being able to spend more time adding muscle, and working on his skating.
Again, if he can make improvements on his skating, he has middle-six to top-six potential, so although it was slightly off the board in terms of his ranking, it is a good overall pick for the Habs.
"I like to get in players faces and I like to mix it up a little bit." - Luke Tuch.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 7, 2020
Says he plays a bit like Jamie Benn and he approaches the game a bit like Matthew Tkachuk.
If he turns into some combination of these players after whom he models his game — particularly with his size — that would be fantastic. A lofty expectation to be sure, but you have to like that he knows what he can bring and what kind of player he can aspire to be based on his build.
This reads as a very safe pick since it seems that Tuch has a high floor, and should be able to crack an NHL roster once he’s done with college hockey. Down the road, we just have to hope that it isn’t remembered as being too safe of a pick.