Possibly the most complete player in the draft, Turcotte‘s two-way ability will allow him to translate to the NHL with ease. A dual-threat, do-it-all kind of player, he can provide the style of play that coaches love.
Name: Alex Turcotte
Date of Birth: February 26, 2001
Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Island Lake, IL, USA)
The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown in the graph, Alex Turcotte may be the most complete player in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He excels in every area of the game, a rare 200-foot player with high-end offensive upside. Only being outproduced by Hughes in points -per-game, the two-way forward does an excellent job at both ends of the ice. He has one of the highest NHL eScores in the draft, likely fueled by his ability to drive the play offensively and make smart, efficient plays defensively leading to a positive goal differential.
The American center looks as if he could be the safest pick in the draft. He combines playmaking and scoring along with a 200-foot game. He skates with an explosive stride and while his top end speed isn’t considered great, it is very good. His ability to drive past defenders wide and cut to the net is a product of his above average edge work and non-stop motor. His tenacious play style ensures that he will not be accused of floating around in any area of the ice. In the video below, Turcotte shows off his stick skills with an excellent deke before finding his teammate at the side of the net. The puck doesn’t go in on this chance but the rush and play by Turcotte was exceptional nonetheless.
— 𝑩𝑳𝑯⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (@BeerLeagueHeroe) April 25, 2019
In his own zone, Turcotte excels as a defensive center. He positions himself well and never stops skating. His face-off ability was the best in a group of elite centres on the USNTDP. He consistently provides solid support for his defencemen. He comes low in the zone and battles along the boards better than most players his size. His penalty-killing ability is more advanced than most players at this stage in their development. Turcotte is adept at using his stick to disrupt the play and turn the puck over. He is controlled and doesn’t take undisciplined penalties with his active stick which is a good sign.
His ability to turn the puck over and transition up the ice towards the offensive zone is exceptional. He isn’t the neutral zone wizard that his teammate Jack Hughes, but he is a good transition player. His ability to make the short, smart pass is key to his transition play, often looking to pass to a winger on the boards and then expecting a return pass up the ice for a neutral zone give-and-go. Turcotte is efficient at exiting and entering the zone.
Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel
Offensively, the relentless nature of Turcotte’s forecheck creates turnovers in the offensive zone and his strength on the puck allows his to dominate possession. He has the ability to control the puck while entering the zone at top speed and make moves with the puck under control to allow himself to get open or draw multiple defenders to him, opening up space for teammates. If open teammates present themselves, Turcotte has both the sense and skill to put the puck on the stick of a player in a prime scoring position. The two-way center can open his toolbox for any skill needed as he possesses an above average shot from almost any position. Whether it be a wrist shot or a snap shot one-toner, he has the ability to put the puck in the net.
The center played in the shadow of Jack Hughes for most of his USNDTP career which hid Turcotte for much of the time. Last season (2017-18) after Hughes was called up to the U18 USNTDP team, Turcotte excelled with the greater responsibility. His game is adaptable to whatever situation arises and whichever teammates he’s been slotted into a line with. Whether it was as a playmaker or triggerman, Turcotte can do whatever is needed.
This season, playing behind Hughes again, he started the year recovering from a lower body injury. This led to a late start and some concern to start the year, often leading to Turcotte being dropped in some rankings around the prospect world.
Late start with the USNTDP
After dealing with the lower-body injury to start the year, Turcotte has excelled since his return. He out-paced all players on the USNTDP outside of Jack Hughes in terms of point production. His 1.68 P/GP was second among all players, trailing only Hughes who put up an impressive 2.24 P/GP. Despite playing in just 37 games he produced an outstanding 62 points, good for sixth among all USNTDP players despite playing about 60% of the games due to the injury.
Stepping into the second line center role upon his return, he allowed Trevor Zegras to return to a more natural fit on the left wing next to Hughes. Turcotte took over all the important face-offs and defensive zone draws as he could be relied upon in any situation. His coach John Wroblewski has this to say about the young man,
Jack Hughes is our most electrifying player but Alex is right there as our most valuable player because his game just transcends so much in so many different areas.
The Illinois native was a leader on the USNTDP both on and off the ice. His mature play style showed others how to properly play the game. He led by example, proving that regardless of how offensive you are, playing a solid two-way game is most important feature a young player can have.
World U18 Championship
Turcotte, like many of this year’s top prospects, were on the loaded USA squad who had dominated the tournament until they ran into a hot goalie. Russian goalie, and 2020 draft eligible, Yaroslav Askarov absolutely stole the game in the semi-finals against the US team.
Video courtesy of Puck Progidy Youtube channel
Despite the disappointing team finish, they defeated Canada in the bronze medal game, Turcotte had a solid tournament. With nine points in seven games, Turcotte finished tied for seventh in tournament scoring. Scoring the opening goal in the bronze medal game, Turcotte was good in all three zones playing the same complete and mature game that’s gotten him to where he is.
What the Detractors Say
Turcotte may truly be the most complete player in this draft. The young American plays a pro-style game already, reliably playing in all three zones. If there is one weakness for Turcotte, it could only be his lack of physicality. He isn’t an overly physical player and won’t lay a massive hit but he doesn’t shy away from engaging in the corners or along the boards. He could serve to build up some strength as he is on the smaller side. With maturity, strength will come for a Turcotte.
His top end speed isn’t out of this world but his high hockey-IQ more than make up for this small deficiency. His stride itself is technically sound, so it’s just working on building strength in his lower body. Again, strength may be the one true weakness.
Alex Turcotte will be taken…
Likely anywhere from three to six. He may still be classified as a player in the second tier of this draft, but he is clearly near the top of that group. As a center, his value will be high and he would be an excellent fit on any team that has a puck in that range. He could go to any team in that range and slot in as their second line center behind a skilled veteran who can teach Turcotte what it takes to be an NHL center.
If Turcotte gets chosen third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks or the Los Angeles Kings, Turcotte could follow a Stanley Cup Chmapion, all-time NHL great in Jonathon Toews and Anze Kopitar respectively. If he gets drafted by either the Colorado Avalanche or the Detroit Red Wings, he could help form one of the most talented one-two punches down the middle of any team. A combination of Nathan MacKinnon-Turcotte or Dylan Larkin-Turcotte would endure that any team they play against will have a difficult time matching up.
Turcotte is good enough to warrant the third overall pick. The complete 200-foot forward could have an impact on the NHL sooner rather than later. Likely to attend the University of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall and play a major role for the team. One year is most likely all Turcotte spends with the Badgers. It’s not out of the realm of questions that Turcotte could be top/player in this drafted outside of the big two. The near NHL ready, two-way machine is likely to go in the top half of the top five of the draft.
For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!