DALLAS – The hard decision has been made and now the hard work starts for Wild prospect Alex Tuch.
One day after leaving Boston College after two seasons to sign with the team that drafted him 18th overall in 2014, Tuch said his goal is to make the Wild next season.
“I’m going to fight for a spot,” the power forward said. “There’s no doubt about it in my mind that I’m going to come in great shape, be ready to go and ready to fight for a spot. But I know I’m going to have to earn it.
“It won’t be a surprise to me at all if I start the year in Iowa. But everyone wants to play in Minnesota. My aspirations are to make the Wild.”
Tuch, 19, spent six days deciding whether to turn pro.
“I loved my time at BC,” he said. “I loved my teammates, my coaches have been nothing but great. I’ll always miss this school, but I thought it was best for me and my development as a hockey player to move on. I’m ready for the new challenge. I’m ready for that next step.
“I think I’m big enough and strong enough, but I have to work on the consistencies and positioning and get that down and make sure I do that correctly to play for the big club.”
Tuch’s contract starts next season. For him to have been eligible for the playoffs, Tuch would have had to have signed before the Wild’s regular-season finale Saturday and burned the first year of his deal, assistant GM Brent Flahr said. Boston College’s season ended Friday with a loss to Quinnipiac at the Frozen Four.
Stars No. 1 center Tyler Seguin, who missed the last 10 games of the regular season with a lacerated Achilles’ tendon, missed Game 1.
Coach Lindy Ruff said he’s “real close” and likely a go for Game 2 Saturday.
“I want him to step in and not play OK. I want him to step in and really be ready,” Ruff said. “If this was a Game 7, he’d probably play. … We can give him the opportunity of two more days of practice and really ramping it up … and I think that’ll make him an even more hungrier and effective player.”
Center Erik Haula tested his lower-body injury after Thursday’s pregame skate. The hope is he can practice Friday and play Game 2.
“He’s going to push it a little bit more now and get a little more strength out of it and see how he feels,” coach John Torchetti said.
Zac Dalpe, 26, made his playoff debut in Haula’s place.
Torchetti, who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with Chicago in 2010, made his playoff head coaching debut. In 1996, Ruff was an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but his playoff head coaching debut with the Buffalo Sabres in 1998 was a whole different animal.
“I remember how nervous I was way back when,” Ruff said. “It’s an exciting time. It’s a hard grind for a coach in this league, and it’s a hard grind for him stepping in when he stepped in, and you’ve got to give a lot of credit for being able to get the Wild in the playoffs.”
• Wild prospect Adam Gilmour signed an amateur tryout agreement Thursday and is expected to play in Iowa’s final two games and practice with Minnesota during the playoffs. He is not playoff eligible.
• A limited number of Wild playoff tickets for Games 3, 4 and 6 were released Thursday and are available for purchase at ticketmaster.com or the Xcel Energy Center box office.