Twice in the span of a month, athletes with Baldwinsville ties were taken on the first day of their sports’ respective professional drafts.
However, in the case of hockey player Alex Tuch, he was chosen a lot earlier than baseball star Scott Blewett. And unlike the pitcher now toiling in the Appalachian League, Tuch is expected to take his time before going to the professional ranks.
Tuch, who spent the last two years in the U.S. National Team’s Development Program, was taken 18th overall by the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild in the league’s annual Entry Draft held last Friday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Given the occasion, and the relative proximity to Central New York, it was little surprise that Tuch had a large contingent with him in Philadelphia, including his parents, Carl and Sharon, along with more than 50 other family members and friends.
A highly-touted 6-foot-4, 220-pound power forward, Tuch gained attention during his club years with the Syracuse Nationals and then, at 16, went into the U.S. National Team Development program, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and played two full seasons there. Last season alone, Tuch picked up 29 goals and 34 assists in 61 games, an average of better than a point per game.
More importantly, Tuch helped Team USA win a lot, starting in 2012 with a victory in the Four Nations Cup, a third-place finish in the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and, this year, his biggest thrill, a gold medal for the Americans in the Under-18 World Championship.
Projected to go anywhere from 10th to 20th in the NHL Draft, Tuch waited as several teams passed, including the hosts of the draft, the Philadelphia Flyers, who selected right before Minnesota.
An expansion team in the NHL in 2000, the Wild, who plays its home games in front of nightly sold-out crowds of nearly 20,000 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, has never reached the Stanley Cup Finals, though it won a playoff series over Colorado this spring before falling in the conference semifinals to the Chicago Blackhawks.