The Buffalo Sabres have been without a singular captain since the start of the 2021-22 season. Jack Eichel was stripped of the captaincy before the season and Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo were alternate captains. The Sabres did have a better season than expected, but are still without a captain. However, there’s one logical choice for the Buffalo Sabres captain. That choice for the next captain is Alex Tuch.
The Case for Alex Tuch as Buffalo Sabres Captain
Tuch and Peyton Krebs came over from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the Eichel trade. Things started off well when Tuch was able to take the ice. Tuch seemed revitalized by the move to his hometown team and netted 12 goals in 50 games.
That spark from Tuch seemed to fuel the Sabres to being a tough out in the second half. Buffalo did collect wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild and other Stanley Cup Playoff teams. The youngsters looked like they were coming along and that’s even with patchwork goaltending.
His energy is infectious and the Baldwinsville, NY native took a lot of the leadership role even without having a letter on his sweater. Tuch should be the next man to don the “C” for the Sabres.
A Lifelong Dream
He used those exact words at the end of the season when Tuch addressed the media. It’s refreshing seeing a player actually enjoy his time in the Queen City. Sabres fans are all too familiar with players like Patrik Berglund failing to report after the Ryan O’Reilly trade. Eichel tried to roast Sabres’ fans after his first game back as a visitor to the KeyBank Center.
However, Tuch was smiling from ear to ear in that post-season press conference. He’ll be the first to tell anyone that he didn’t get off to the best start. However, Tuch finished the season strong after a self-described 20-30 game lull.
Tuch has grown up cheering for the Sabres growing up. His family is just a short drive down the New York State Thruway and brings large cheering sections. He’s embraced being a leader. Tuch wants to be in Buffalo and that positive attitude should be rewarded. He credited Okposo and Girgensons for creating a positive culture. Those two should be given the assistant captain slots for doing such a great job.
Continuing the Culture
Tuch mentioned culture in his end-of-season presser. There’s been a black cloud hanging over the franchise for many years. The Sabres possess the second-longest postseason drought in North American sports at 11 years. (The Sacramento Kings of the NBA are first at 16 seasons.)
However, Tuch pointed out that the team’s attitude is very different than in the past. The Sabres would have a hard time handling any adversity in past years. However, that changed in the second half. Buffalo was a tough out and matched the blue-collar attitude of the city.
The Sabres aren’t going to be a pushover and won’t be an easy two points. Tuch mentioned that teams are going to have to work to get wins against a young and hungry team.
One of the Best
The 26-year-old forward is one of the team’s best forwards, so it makes sense that he gets to be captain. Tuch was a middle to bottom-six player with the Golden Knights. However, he’s going to be depended on to shoulder more of a load on offence with his hometown team.
His ice time jumped up from 16:50 in 2021 to 18:25 in 2021-22. His power-play assists jumped from two to six in his last two seasons. He’ll be on the top extra-man unit and hopes that his shooting percentage can jump back to 12.7 like it was in his last season in Vegas.
It makes sense to put the “C” on one of the team’s best players. Making Tuch captain would provide stability and it would be a smart choice.
A case can be made for Okposo and Girgensons to be promoted to a full-time captaincy. Both were very helpful in steadying a young Sabres team that came on in the second half. Tuch was always sure to credit the pair for making him feel welcome in the locker room. As mentioned before, the two of them should be part of the leadership group next season and have a letter on their chest.
However, Tuch seems to be the right choice because his contract goes until the end of the 2025-26 season. Both Girgenson’s and Okposo’s respective deals run out at the end of next season. Girgensons is an affordable $2.2 million while Okposo carries a hefty $6 million price tag. It’s possible Okposo could take a discount, but he could be gone at the end of the season.
Tuch seems to be in for the long haul and should be the next captain. It’s a job he’s likely going to relish for a long time.