BOSTON – Alex Tuch and Adam Gilmour had the day off from practice, so when the Boston College student-athletes got out of class at noon, they took a 15-minute drive over to rival Boston University.
That’s not usually how Tuch, a sophomore, and Gilmour, a junior, would spend a Wednesday. But with the Wild in town practicing at Agganis Arena, the Wild prospects joined BU freshman Jordan Greenway and watched the NHL team they all hope to play for some day prepare to play the Bruins. They met players, chatted with Wild brass and reunited with coach Mike Yeo.
“They took off their [Boston College] jackets before they came in here, though,” Greenway, who looks like a linebacker on skates, joked about Gilmour and Tuch.
Tuch, a 6-4 right winger drafted 18th overall in 2014; Gilmour, a 6-4 center drafted 98th overall in 2012; and Greenway, a 6-5 left winger drafted 50th overall last June, also bought tickets to watch the Wild play live Thursday night.
“Them being in the Midwest, I don’t get to see them play much, so it’ll be awesome to see them play, especially in person,” said Gilmour, 21. “It’s nice to watch them and envision myself playing for them and to see my dream right in front of me.”
Last week, Tuch went to watch his old U.S. National Team pal Dylan Larkin play for the Detroit Red Wings against the Bruins.
“It was just surreal watching him play in the NHL knowing I can be there within the next few years,” Tuch, 19, said. “It’s an exciting feeling.”
After starting the season on separate lines for the Eagles, Tuch and Gilmour have been reunited. Last season, Tuch led Boston College with 28 points and ranked second with 14 goals. This season, he has two goals and seven points in 10 games. Gilmour was second on the Eagles last season with 27 points and has three goals and six points in 10 games this season for BC (9-1).
They’re getting their games going after being stricken with a stomach bug to start the season. Tuch also had his offseason training interrupted by a sprained medial collateral knee ligament suffered at the world junior evaluation camp.
“I think we’re going to win the national championship,” Tuch said of the Eagles. “I think we’re going to win the Beanpot and the Hockey East championships. I think everyone in the room thinks that. We have full confidence.”
Tuch particularly is full of confidence. NBC analyst Pierre McGuire knows the body of work of all three Wild prospects, and he says Tuch, whom he compares to Wayne Simmonds, has a “brilliant future.”
“Big body who can really shoot the puck,” McGuire said. “He’s a player with a lot of character that is really strong in grinding situations. Sometimes players have a fit, and there are probably some better fits for him at BC.
“If he was on a line with Miles Wood and Colin White, I mean, he’d be thriving.”
McGuire also believes in the futures of Gilmour and Greenway. He said the upside is there, but they’re still learning “to dominate physical situations. That’s part of the transition players have to make when they go from junior or prep school to college.”
This is a development year for Greenway, 18, who has two assists in nine games for the 5-3-2 Terriers. Last Friday in a physical, robust game against Providence, Greenway had eight shots.
In June, after the Wild drafted the New York native, BU coach David Quinn said the Wild got a steal.
“He’s just dripping with talent,” Quinn said. “He’s an athlete. If this kid was a football player, he’d be a five-star tight end going to Notre Dame or Alabama.”
Greenway said he hopes to “eventually dominate” the college level before turning pro. As for Tuch and Gilmour, assistant GM Brent Flahr said the Wild hasn’t talked to either about signing out of respect for the fact they’re in college.
But with the Iowa Wild of the AHL once again struggling and the Wild lacking professional prospects, it seems likely that the Wild would talk to each after their season ends.
“I’m not really pushing any option out the door,” Tuch said.
Staying the course
Gilmour’s situation is the most pressing. It has been four years since he was drafted, so Gilmour could withdraw from school after this season. The Wild would then have a month to sign him, or he could become a free agent. If he chooses to return for his senior season, the Wild still would own his rights.
Gilmour said he’s not looking to become a free agent.
“I’ve had nothing but great experiences so far at my three development camps and in all my conversations with the Wild staff,” Gilmour said. “I love how the organization operates and follow it closely on social media. I’m happy to be part of them and wouldn’t want to give that up for anything.”
In part because of the Wild’s urging, Gilmour has worked on his strength and nutrition the past year. He’s above 200 pounds, “which is awesome because that’s always been a knock on me. I think I have a good combination of size and skill, and I’ve worked on being more physical and dominant in the faceoff circle.”
He doesn’t know if he’s ready to turn pro tough.
“It depends on a lot of things,” Gilmour said. “I know I was looked at as a project pick by them when I was originally drafted, so it depends how the Wild see my progression, how I feel I am as a player and what my parents think. That’s something to talk about in April. Right now, I’m just focused on having a good season and hopefully going to the Frozen Four and winning it.”