Who is he?: Luke Tuch is a 6’2”, 203 pound left wing from upstate New York, and is committed to playing at Boston University when hockey resumes. Prior to the stoppage in play, he was a member of the United States National Team Development Program, where he made improvements to his game from his age-17 season to his age-18 season. He is the younger brother of current Golden Knight Alex Tuch, who went 18th overall to the Wild in 2014. Since he was traded to Vegas for a conditional third round pick in 2017 as a part of expansion draft maneuvering, Tuch has 43 goals and 63 assists in 194 games.
They’re both big forwards, but Alex is likely the more skilled of the two. He spent two seasons at Boston College prior to signing an ELC with the Wild, on which he played a season for the Iowa Wild of the AHL before the trade. Given Luke’s somewhat lesser skill and skating, Luke Tuch is not likely to be a first rounder like his older brother. He has middle six potential, unless he makes improvements to his skating that would allow him to create more opportunities for himself.
Tuch made improvements to his game under the U.S. National Team Development Program. NHL Central Scouting upgraded him to an A rating on their November Players to Watch list. He’s fallen somewhat in their ratings since then, but the US NTDP coaches had high praise for him this season. While improving his scoring and maintaining the physicality of his game, Tuch reduced his total penalty minutes from 121 in 78 total games in 2018-19 to 38 in 66 total games in 2019-20. He also improved his goal scoring from 15 (.192 per game) to 23 goals (.334 per game) in his USNTDP seasons. In his 47 games with the U18 team this season, he had 95 shots for a 15.8% shot percentage. According to the USA Hockey website, Tuch:
Played in all eight international contests and recorded a goal and three assists
Skated in all 18 games against NCAA opponents and picked up eight points with four goals and four assists
Scored against Boston University, his future team, on Jan. 3 at USA Hockey Arena
Registered a multi-point effort (1g-1a) in the 2020 Biosteel All-American Game
Tuch should have an easy time transitioning to playing for Boston University given his play for the USNTDP this past season.
Where is he ranked?: Luke Tuch is ranked at:
- 40th by NHL Central Scouting (from 35 at mid-term ranking) (NA Skaters)
- 53rd by The Hockey Writers
- 60th by The Hockey News
- 83rd by The Athletic
What do others have to say about him?: At Last Word on Hockey, Ben Kerr did a scouting report on Luke Tuch. Here is what Kerr had to say about Tuch:
Tuch uses his size and strength to establish his position in front of the net or to win board battles. He also is an effective forechecker and will use his body to get the puck. Tuch plays a more physical game than his brother and is a threat to hammer a defenceman if they take to long to move the puck. He is also good at controlling the puck in the cycle game and at driving the net when an opening appears. If an opening doesn’t appear, he drives the net bowling right over the man defending him.
So, Tuch is an opportunistic player who would rather play the game off the cycle than aggressively get shots on goal. Kerr went on to say this about Tuch’s defensive abilities:
Tuch shows good defensive instincts. His hockey IQ is very apparent as he anticipates plays well leading to turnovers and starting the transition game. He is hard on the backcheck and supports the defence down low. Tuch wins battles along the boards in all three zones. His hard-nosed and gritty style helps in his own end of the ice. He is a very good all-around type of player. Tuch can be used on the penalty kill.
While Tuch has been used on the penalty kill with the USNTDP, I would not necessarily expect him to be able to continue that into the NHL. Tuch does not have great speed, and might suffer in a league that values speed over brawn from forwards on the penalty kill. At The Athletic ($), Corey Pronman had this to say about Tuch, whom he ranked 83rd in the draft,
Luke Tuch is interesting because he’s 6-foot-2, he competes hard and he can make plays. His hockey sense and ability to see the ice is his best offensive attribute. He makes plays with the puck around the hard areas of the ice and scored a lot of goals right around the crease. The concern on Tuch is a real lack of a wow factor and offensive upside in his game. There were many matches over the season where you didn’t notice him due to his average footspeed and puck skills. I underrated his brother, so I’m open to the argument I’m underselling what he brings to the table.
Tuch is a gamble of a pick in that he doesn’t have great puck skills, but even in low rankings his hockey sense is acknowledged. Tuch seems certain to be at least a contributor at the AHL level if not the NHL. His average skating might be made up for with his size, but Tuch might suffer without players to defer to in transition.
“[Luke Tuch] plays a physical power-forward game with smarts, skills and competitiveness,” said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. “He plays a similar style as older brother Alex in that they both get results by playing the game the correct way and don’t take any short cuts. They give all they have when on the ice.”
While this does not do anything to change the view of Tuch as an averagely-skilled prospect, it adds more to the reputation of Tuch as a spirited and smart player. NHL.com also included a quote from Tuch’s head coach.
“He’s been a major driver of our identity as a physically demanding team to play against,” U.S. NTDP U-18 coach Seth Appert said. “He has been physically punishing almost every game this year while scoring in the hard areas around the net.”
This helps establish Tuch as a physical presence on the ice, as there is no available video of him in that area of the game (as well as very little in general). If the Devils want to diversify their prospect pool with a power forward, the praise Tuch received from Central Scouting would give me hope that he could be a good third line player.
Video: There are no posted highlight compilations, and very few highlights of Luke Tuch on YouTube. To start, here’s a video of a power play power play shift from the USNTDP’s game at Providence University.
After Tuch allows the breakout to make its way into the neutral zone and across the blueline, he receives a short pass and quickly winds the puck around the boards before a defender can close down on him. After switching to his off-wing, Tuch positions himself on the goal line. After a stoppage in play and a draw, Tuch gets the puck immediately off the faceoff and moves it back to the point before a penalty killer can pressure him. Tuch then moves back down to the goal line, where he helped cycle to relieve pressure on his teammate higher in the zone. He gets a pass back at 1:20, but the puck bounced off his stick and he had to pass it back to the point from the corner. Then Tuch moves to his strong side wing, in the faceoff circle close to the high slot. Wanting a quick one-timer, Tuch settles for batting at a blocked shot from the teammate who didn’t pass to him, but Tuch’s follow-up attempt went wide. Tuch positioned himself well on the power play, but he was flat-footed when receiving his return pass and had to chase a puck into the corner rather than making a play to the front of the net.
In this video, skip to 1:27 for the portion that pertains to Luke Tuch. Coming straight off the bench into an odd-man overtime situation, Luke Tuch makes a smooth, simple move to his backhand for a five-hole goal. It’s good, repeatable, but there’s no high-end puck skills shown from this single highlight.
Again adopting the simple approach, Tuch deflects a pass with an outstretched stick on the forecheck before shooting the slow-rolling puck. There was no move on the goaltender in tight with defensemen on his back - Tuch just got low and quickly shot as the goalie wasn’t prepared.
Should the Devils pick him?: I think I would be more open to the Devils picking Tuch if there was more available video of him. What scouts and other writers have to say about him make up for it to some extent, but I imagine it would take a trade up from the fourth round into the second or third for the Devils to have a shot at picking him. By no means is Tuch a sure NHL player, as he could spend years in the AHL. In order to be an NHL player, I think Tuch either needs to become a faster skater or a bigger physical presence with the puck in order to score off of individual efforts (aside from ones like the goal off the turnover above).
In terms of production, Tuch was fourth on his USNTDP U-18 team in scoring. His team is not as stacked as the group that included 100-point scorers Jack Hughes and Cole Caulfield. By comparison, the top scorer on the U-18 team this season had 46 points in 47 games. So, it was a very different year, and Tuch probably benefited from the extra ice time that he got on the much less stacked team this season.
Your Thoughts: What do you think about Luke Tuch? Do you think he'll join his brother in the NHL? Do you think his skating will hinder him? Where in the draft do you think he should go? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.