Just one month into the young college hockey season, we’ve already had quite a few games with fairly significant storylines. For example, a few weeks back, there was a game featuring a combined six players already selected in the first round by various NHL teams – this coming at a time when there were only five other first rounders playing in all of the NCAA.
This week, we get what is best described as a MayorsManor favorite – it’s time for some Kings on Kings crime. When No. 7 Wisconsin takes on No. 12 Penn State later today, you can see center Alex Turcotte faceoff with defenseman Cole Hults.
The teams met up last night in the first of their two-game set. Penn State took the Halloween night affair, in a dominant 6-1 affair. It was a very physical game and one of the Badgers players was suspended this morning. Game 2 is just a few hours away. Hults had an assist on one of his team’s goals, giving him six points in six games – tops among all Penn State defensemen.
Note from @ColeHults on facing @Turcotte__71 for the first time – "Obviously he's a highly touted player and I'm excited to see what he can do at the college level. We have a good rivalry with Wisconsin too, so it should be a fun weekend to lock him down."#KingsOnKingsCrime https://t.co/haVF4Tu6oa
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) October 30, 2019
Two interesting notes about these players – and we first mentioned this on a recent Kings of the Podcast episode – based upon what we’re hearing, both Kings prospects will likely be turning pro in less than six months. Hults is currently completing his junior year with the Nittany Lions, while Turcotte is only a few games into his turn at college life. According to the scouts we speak with, Hults has really rounded out his game over the past year and is now considered a legit NHL prospect; one who should see consistent minutes as at least a third-pairing defenseman, if not more. We have long believed that Turcotte’s future decision will be partially impacted by a similar one weighing on teammate Cole Caufield (selected by the Montreal Canadiens several picks later). Again, we discussed Turcotte’s situation in further detail on this week’s Kings of the Podcast, be sure to give it a listen.
For more on Hults, here’s a small taste from our January 2019 Prospect Rankings:
Hults has settled into being a top pairing D-man on the Nittany Lions blueline. He’s also being used on the top penalty kill and secondary power play units. Hults’ offensive numbers are on par from a year ago, despite the fact he’s often on the ice against top players from opposing teams (i.e. more of a shutdown role). His skating is solid and he has a physical presence to his game; a very efficient player both with and without the puck. Hults is a smart player with very good instincts for position.
These aren’t the only two players in the Wisconsin-Penn State series with potential ties to the LA Kings organization either.
Wisconsin Badgers forward Dylan Holloway is absolutely one to watch. He’s expected to be a first round selection in 2020 and will be a player considered by Rob Blake & Co. In talking to scouts this week about Holloway, they say he is a powerful skater with a strong two-way game. He had a solid showing against national powerhouse Minnesota Duluth a few weeks back, displaying NHL tendencies without the puck, attacking the net, and winning one-on-one battles. Holloway can play wing and center, another trait favored by the Kings. Unfortunately, he sat out yesterday’s game vs. Penn State after being a bit banged up over the weekend. Holloway did return to practice yesterday morning, so there is hope that coach Tony Granato will slide him into the lineup tonight for the second game.
UPDATE: Holloway is in.
On the other bench is forward Alex Limoges. We wrote about him last spring, in an article profiling unrestricted college free agents the Kings were likely targeting. From what we’ve gathered, they continue to keep fairly close tabs on him after he was previously considered for being selection at the NHL Draft. LA’s staff has had several scouts looking at his play. Thus, they remain interested in the player.
From our previous article:
Penn State coach on Limoges, “Very smart player who makes a lot of plays in traffic. He is a complete hockey player who is also good on face-offs.” …
And one of his Nittany Lion teammates recently told us this, “Alex is a great teammate, works hard. One of the best puck protectors I’ve ever played with/against. He sees the game very well and has great hockey IQ. He really has a knack for always coming out with the puck. We joke around that he always has the puck on a string.”
As usual, we also reached out to some scouts for updated notes leading into this week’s games. They continue to praise him as a “very smart hockey player with natural instincts and skill.” Some of the things they like most about Limoges are the fact he makes a lot of small plays with the puck and finds space offensively. It was also mentioned to us that his skating has improved throughout his time in college, yet he needs to show more with his skating and within the pace he plays the game to be an impact player in the NHL. Limoges has the skill, size, and smarts to play on the wing in an offensive role. What they’ll be looking for leading into the college free agency window later this season is his pace and willingness to engage. Like most things these days, everything eventually comes back to compete level. Can he convince NHL scouts – and more specifically, the Kings brass – to offer him a contract?
Today’s Wisconsin-Penn State game can be seen on TV and streamed online beginning at 3pm PST.
For even more college hockey prospects, be sure to check out goalie David Hrenak (selected by the Kings in 2018), when his St. Cloud State Huskies host the Princeton Tigers tomorrow at 4pm PST. That game will be on FS-North (DirecTv channel 668-2). Check local listings.
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