Staff Writer Kent Youngblood was at Alex Tuch's first press scrum at the start of development camp last week and transcribed a Q and A from that gathering. It was originally scheduled to run in Sunday's paper. It didn't make it, so I'll toss on the blog courtesy of my man, Kenteth.
-- I'll be filling in for Paul Allen on KFAN today from 9-noon. My guests include Wild assistant coach Andrew Brunette, Iowa Wild coach John Torchetti, Iowa Wild forward Kurtis Gabriel and Fox Sports North's Kevin Gorg to talk Twins and Wild. I'm also bringing in studio my recently-hired personal trainer, former Bethel linebacker Cory Svihla, to talk about what he does at Staylight Fitness. It's a neat business because they're a group of independent trainers who come to your home.
-- I'm also filling in Wednesday. My guests include Minnesota United's Aaron Pitchkolan and Jamie Watson, a discussion with NHLers-turned-high-school-coaches Mark Parrish, Wes Walz and Trent Klatt and Fox Sports North's Anthony Lapanta.
-- Erik Haula's salary arbitration hearing has been scheduled for July 31. If it gets to that hearing, an arbitrator will rule within 48 hours after what his contract for the next one or two years will be (Wild decides the term) OR the Wild can settle on a new contract at any time before the hearing or before the arbitrator renders his decision. As of Saturday, the sides weren't in the same ballpark with, I'm guessing, Haula's camp focusing on how he was on the ice for only seven power-play goals last season and the Wild's camp focusing on his sub-par even-strength season.
-- Also, I received a lot of Twitter questions as to why the Wild would sign Joel Eriksson Ek now if he can return to Farjestad for one or even two years potentially. The answer is two- or three-fold: 1. He's not getting cheaper; 2 and maybe most importantly. This avoids a June 1 contract deadline in two years and a potential return to the draft scenario (Remember, Mikael Granlund came down to the wire); 3. Theoretically, if the Wild ever needed him or wanted him, the team could recall him or even put him in Iowa after Farjestad's season is over.
Another former Farjestad player, Eriksson Ek's fellow hometowner Jonas Brodin, once signed his entry-level contract on his 18th birthday in development camp, interestingly enough. He only returned to Sweden for one season before debuting in the NHL as a 19-year-old defenseman.
Reminder: The Wild prospects will be having their final scrimmage tonight at Xcel Energy Center at 6:30. It's free and open to the public. Gate 1 opens at 6. See you there.
From Kent, here is the Tuch Q and A:
Fresh off leading Boston College in scoring with 28 points in 37 games as a freshman, forward Alex Tuch – drafted by the Wild with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft -- is attending his second straight Minnesota Wild prospect camp. Meeting the press after an early practice, Tuch met with the media. Here is what he had to say:
Q. How much different is it being here your second year? Is year two a big difference?
A. Oh, yeah, I mean, I know what to expect this year. Off-ice, on-ice, everything. I think just knowing more people around you as well, with the coaching staff and the management here, it makes a world of difference.
Q. How did your first year of college go for you?
A. It went really well. I think we underperformed a little as a team. We finished 11th in the country. Boston College, we should be a top-10 team. And I think losing to Denver (in the first round of the Division 1 tournament) hurt. I think we could have done better. But I think, overall, I improved as a player and I think our team has gotten stronger since then. So it should be a good year next year.
Q. Were you surprised by your freshman season?
A. A little bit. I think after world juniors I really picked my pace up, picked the pace of the game up. And I think the success just showed. I think playing at a higher level really picked my game up. I had two good linemates I started playing with in (Adam) Gilmour and (Zach) Sanford afterwards, and we had good chemistry throughout the second half of the year and that helped a lot.
Q. What did that do for your confidence?
A. It built it up a lot. I mean, I struggled in the beginning of the season. You lose some confidence, but you have to keep going. I think the coaches helped that. Every morning I was skating or working out, and it just progressed over the course of the year.
Q. Did you consider not going back there for your sophomore season?
A. Not really. I think I have some unfinished business, especially with the Beanpot (an annual tournament held in Boston with Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern, won by Boston University last February) and the national tournament. Although I led the team in scoring, I feel I could have produced a lot more. And I think I have another year of development ahead of me.
Q. Where did you see the biggest growth in your game as a freshman?
A. I think my consistency. I think the pace of my game was a lot more consistent. Just playing at a high level all together – defensively, offensively – in the second half of the season.
Q. Is the camp more about taking it all in or impressing people.
A. I think it’s a little bit of both. Everyone is watching you here. You’re playing against some of the best players in the world and around the country. But It’s also about taking everything in. The off-ice training is really big, really helpful, especially if you haven’t trained that hard in the past. And on-ice, today we had a good skill coach, a couple good AHL coaches, and I think you learn a lot from them.
Q. How would you describe your game?
A. A big, strong power forward with a heavy shot, very smart instincts. A two-way forward.
Q. What areas would you say you need the most growth in?
A. I think my first three steps. Being quicker. Being a bigger guy I think that will make me more effective. And keep working on my consistency.
Q. Would you see yourself as a Charlie Coyle-type player?
A. Yeah, a bigger, stronger player who goes to the net. Works around the net and in the corners.
Q. Did you watch the Wild during their playoff run?
A. A lot. I tried to watch the NHL playoffs as much as possible. It’s the best kind of hockey. It shows you how much you have to do to get there. I mean, guys like (Ryan) Suter is playing 30 minutes a night, which is unbelievable. It shows me what I have to do, conditioning-wise, during the off-season.
Q. How do you feel you stack up with the other players here?
A. I feel I’m one of the top guys out there. I feel like I came in pretty strong, pretty confident. And I think going forward I have to prove myself more and show I’m the top guy out there.
Q. Have you set goals for you and Boston College for the upcoming season?
A. We really want a national championship, we want to be hot, we want to have a really good overall season. Personally I want to lead my team again and be more effective offensively as well.