Updated October 19, 2018 - 6:38 pm
The Golden Knights went through a protracted contract negotiation with one restricted free agent this summer.
They avoided a potentially similar situation with Alex Tuch.
The team announced a seven-year, $33.25 million contract extension for the 22-year-old right wing on Friday that locks up Tuch through the 2025-26 season.
“(I) couldn’t be any more excited,” Tuch said in a video posted to the Knights’ official Twitter account. “Really pumped to be part of such an amazing club for the next eight years. It’s going to be an unbelievable experience, and hopefully we get a lot of wins in front of you guys at the fortress.”
Alex Tuch has a message for the fans 😁 pic.twitter.com/2ZBNMFNITM
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 19, 2018
Tuch is in the final year of his entry-level contract and would have become a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights after this season.
Defenseman Shea Theodore, who is Tuch’s housemate, also was a RFA with no arbitration rights and missed the first 10 days of training camp before he signed a seven-year, $36.4 million extension on Sept. 24.
Toronto winger William Nylander has not played this season as he negotiates a new contract. Nylander is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, too.
Knights general manager George McPhee was not available for comment Friday.
“I think probably it was in the back of everyone’s mind, but it wasn’t overtly discussed,” said Brian Bartlett, Tuch’s agent with Sports Consulting Group. “There isn’t a great mechanism to resolve that if you can’t come to terms right away.
“But I don’t think it was a driving force. It was more looking at is there a number and term to get Alex Tuch security and locked in at an (average annual value) and a number the team can plan around.”
Bartlett said the Knights approached him and Tuch about a long-term extension in recent weeks and a deal was finalized over the past 10 days.
Tuch’s extension is structured similar to Theodore’s with a flat annual salary of $4.75 million, which provides McPhee more cost certainty for the future. It includes a five-team no-trade clause in the final two years of the deal.
Tuch has a $925,000 salary cap hit this season.
The Knights have 15 players under contract for the 2019-20 season and are projected to have $13.25 million of cap space based on the current salary cap.
“Admittedly, for us, he is overpaid the next couple of years,” Bartlett said. “But based on all the expectations we have for Alex, we’re hoping he’s underpaid in the last few years.”
Tuch suffered a lower-body injury in the final preseason game against San Jose on Sept. 30 and has yet to play in the regular season.
He skated on his own before Friday’s practice and won’t be in the lineup when the Knights face first-place Anaheim at 7 p.m. Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 222-pound Tuch was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2014 out of Boston College.
He posted 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) and 27 penalty minutes in 78 games as a rookie after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a third-round pick and selecting Erik Haula in the expansion draft.
Tuch appeared in all 20 postseason games, recording six goals and 10 points. But his most memorable moment came in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final when Washington goaltender Braden Holtby made a diving stop on Tuch’s shot in the final two minutes.
“He was given a great opportunity in Vegas and he took that to heart,” Bartlett said. “He had a great year, and Alex couldn’t be any more excited to try to have an entire career in Vegas.”
Who: Ducks at Golden Knights
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, DISH 414/5414)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
1. Big test. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Golden Knights, who faced five playoff teams in their first seven games. Anaheim sits atop the Pacific Division with 11 points, five ahead of the Knights, and is riding a two-game winning streak.
2. The Specials. The Knights went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill in Tuesday’s victory over Buffalo to open the five-game homestand. That unit will be tested against the Ducks, who are tied for seventh overall on the power play at 27.8 percent and have converted 4 of 9 chances in four road games.
3. Low total. After a slow start, Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed one goal in his past 129-plus minutes of work. Anaheim counterpart John Gibson has been key to the Ducks’ hot start and is tied for second in the league with a .948 save percentage.
David Schoen Review-Journal