2019 NHL Draft Preview: Alex Turcotte, USA Center

Even with two selections currently slated for the first round, make no mistake about it – the 2019 NHL Entry Draft will be one of the most important weekends in recent memory for the LA Kings. There will be little room for error, considering the retooling GM Rob Blake and staff have begun with the organization over the past six months. There is still a lot of heavy lifting to accomplish, and draft weekend should provide substantial efforts toward their goals.

As we’ve been doing throughout this series in recent weeks, MayorsManor aims to provide you with an overview of several prospects who may pique the Kings interest next month in Vancouver. Thus far, our articles have been focused on players from the Major Junior circuit – which covers the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Now, we’re shifting our focus to one of the top prospects from the United States National Team Development Program (more commonly referred to as USNTDP) – a team which competes against both NCAA clubs as well as organizations from the United States Hockey League (USHL) each season.

As always, keep in mind the players featured here are not necessarily presented in a ranked order, but rather as a mix of options regarding who could see interest from the Kings during the 2019 Draft. Further, MayorsManor editor John Hoven recently discussed several scenarios possibly employed by the Kings in Round 1, including a trade or two (see here for more information). If Blake & Co. did indeed move down a few spots from their No. 5 slot, a possible consequence of said move may even involve another team taking the player featured below.

ALEX TURCOTTE

Vitals

Date of Birth: February 26, 2001
Height: 5’11
Weight: 185 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Center

2018-19 Season

Turcotte spent his entire 2018-19 season on the USNTDP U-18 team, where he scored 62 points (27 G, 35 A) in 37 games. While representing Team USA at the U-18 World Juniors, Turcotte also helped Team USA to a bronze medal with nine points (4 G, 5 A) in seven contests.

Kings Ties To USNTDP

The Kings have made two picks from this training program – Derek Forbort (2010) and Hudson Fasching (2013). Dan Hinote, who won the Stanley Cup with Rob Blake on the Avalanche in 2001, is also familiar with Turcotte as he serves as of the Associate Coaches for the USNTDP U-18 team.

Hockey Bloodlines

Turcotte has a few hockey players in his family, most notably:

Alfie (father) – Former NHL player for the Canadiens, Jets, and Capitals

Jeff (uncle) – He is now a coach of the LA Junior Kings

His cousins, Tanner and Tara also are in hockey programs; including Tanner competing with the LA Junior Kings. Turcotte’s grandfather, Réal, wore many hats as a junior hockey executive in the early ’80s.

Future Badger, Not Spirit-ual

The Saginaw Spirit selected Turcotte in the second round of the second round (27th overall) in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft. However, Turcotte had previously committed to University of Wisconsin in 2016 and plans on honoring the collegiate route.

Some former Badgers drafted by the Kings were Michael Mersch (2011), Jay McFarlane (1979), Julian Baretta (1977) and Bob Suter (1977). Those aren’t the only players who wore Wisconsin’s vintage red and white prior to eventually donning the Kings crest, though. That list includes names like: Davis Drewiske, Brian Engblom, Tom Gilbert, Tony Granato, Jamie McBain, Joe Piskula, Steven Reinprecht, and LA playoff hero Gary Shuchuk.  

In more recent and applicable news, Granato is not only a former Badgers player, he’s also the team’s current head coach. There’s also a guy named Bob Miller you may have heard of once or twice; he started his broadcasting career at the University of Wisconsin prior to becoming the voice of the Kings for more than 40 illustrious years.

Playing With Fire?

Turcotte missed a large part of this year due to a hip injury, playing only 37 of the 64 scheduled games for his USNTDP squad. Mononucleosis also sidelined him for a few weeks, as well. He was able to represent the United States in the U-18 tournament, but was not fully recovered.

This injury knowledge probably doesn’t resonate too well with Kings fans, who are still waiting for Gabriel Vilardi to develop into a mainstay in the lineup.

By The Numbers

One of the more remarkable tidbits on about Turcotte is the fact he was second on the team in scoring rate, sitting only behind Jack Hughes. Turcotte’s 1.68 points-per-game was higher than prolific goal scorer Cole Caufield (1.56 points) and crafty playmaker Trevor Zegras (1.45 points), while regularly playing on the second line and often in a defensive center role.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

o 5th by The Draft Analyst, who wrote in an additional article earlier in the year, “Powerful center with excellent playmaking abilities and game-changing speed who has the potential to become a top-line pivot in the NHL. Turcotte, who’s father Alfie was a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1983, was a key contributor for both the NTDP’s under-17 and under-18 programs, including a midseason promotion to the latter where he produced 16 points in 19 games in a limited role. Turcotte is a low-maintenance center in that he can excel in both optimal and non-optimal conditions, plus handle physicality better than most offensive forwards. He is a fast, agile skater with a wide, powerful stride and the balance of a seasoned NHL power forward. Getting knocked off the puck while he’s either static or moving is something you rarely see.”

o 9th by Prospect Pipeline, who wrote, “Be sure to keep an eye on Turcotte in the coming months and on the day of the 2019 NHL Draft. Although Hughes could very well be selected first overall, Turcotte doesn’t trail very far behind in terms of his individual skill and potential at the NHL-level.”

o 4th by Sportsnet. Sam Cosentino wrote, “Using a marathon mentality, he put a season checkered with injuries into the rear-view mirror with a stellar U18 tournament.”

See For Yourself

While highlights only paint a picture of the player’s game, they still show some of the capabilities possessed. In Turcotte’s case, this package shows his offensive potential and should paint a picture of what could be in store as he further matures into a professional hockey player.

Final Comments

To tie it all together with a nice pretty bow, LA could look to select Turcotte because he is a cerebral, two-way forward with hockey spanning generations of family ties. What’s more, he doesn’t let his defensive responsibilities impede on his ability to produce, as he still scored at a higher rate than everyone on the U-18 USNTDP Team aside from potential first-overall pick Jack Hughes. To have an elite forward at both ends of the ice is welcome for any organization, including the Kings. While there could be some hesitation to draft another forward who had a major injury, the complete package may be too much to pass up for the Kings scouting staff.

 

NOTE: You can find David Hofreiter, the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article, on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.

 

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Comments

  1. Salivating at the thought of Vilardi getting healthy and drafting one of these stud forwards at the #5 pick (or even a few spots lower if we trade down). If we get a couple chips to fall in our favor, we’re going to be exciting to watch going forward.