Due to injury issues early in the season, Alex Turcotte found himself falling down draft boards despite being one of the most talented two-way players in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Once he got healthy Turcotte turned into the dynamic blue-chip prospect scouts had expected him to be. He had a tremendous second half of the season and is now all but a lock to be selected in the top-5 next month.
Turcotte finished the USHL leg of his season with a league leading 2.14 points-per-game. He was able to accomplish this while playing away from super-prospect Jack Hughes and goal scoring dynamo Cole Caufield. Turcotte’s role was as the 2C that was tasked with a more three-zone game than the top line.
The son of an NHLer, Turcotte brings a blend of high-end speed and skill while being among the best defensive forwards in the class. He is a powerful center with excellent playmaking abilities who has the potential to turn into a top line NHLer. He is a fast, agile skater with a powerful stride and the lower body strength that allows him to win battles against the boards and control play down low in a way that is reminiscent of the best playmaking centers in the league. You’re not going to see Turcotte knocked off the puck very often.
Turcotte has the vision and passing ability to play an offensive role while already showing the defensive responsibility needed to play center in the NHL. Growing up around the game, you can tell he has very strong hockey instincts. He has a feel for the game and understands the nuances in a way normally only seen from veteran players. He has strong situational awareness and plays the type of game that system-oriented coaches will love.
Going into this season, some feared that Turcotte was too willing to defer to his linemates as opposed to looking for his own scoring chances. Those fears went away this year as he showed the ability to take control and drive possession in a way that made him a true scoring threat.
While he has a very good top speed, it’s Turcotte’s acceleration that makes him so difficult to contain. He has a first-step that most defenders can’t handle. He is relentless on the forecheck and has a knack for causing turnovers in the offensive zone. He’s always moving his feet and has a motor that doesn’t allow the opposition time to delay with the puck. Turcotte is not overly physical, but he is not afraid to take a hit to make a play. He has a quick stick and is great at intercepting passes leading to quick transition turnovers. He perfectly fits the new mold of offensive-threatening penalty killer.
While NHL comparisons are not overly useful and can be misleading, scouts have compared Turcotte to Ryan O’Reilly and Patrice Bergeron. Comparisons that are both apt and exciting for whichever team drafts him.
Committed to play for the Wisconsin Badger next season, Turcotte is likely only one year away from making an impact at the NHL level.
It’s easy to overlook Turcotte’s stats when he’s playing on a team with Hughes and Caufield. That said, Turcotte turned in a very productive season of his own - especially when he finally got healthy later in the year. He was the team’s top producer for parts of the season, an impressive feat when you consider that he was often used as the team’s defensive center.
What the Scouts are Saying
“Great skill with his stick one-on-one and a very agile and shifty skater who could have massive upside if you can snag him after a few picks roll by.” - Scouching.ca
“Dominant play in Jack Hughes’s absence solidified his standing as the draft’s best two-way center. He should be near the top on every team’s draft board.” - The Draft Analyst
“Exciting to watch … plays at high speed and tempo … strong 200-foot game … constantly competing … strength to his stride … plays confident.” - ISS Hockey
Where He’ll Be Drafted
There is a very good chance Turcotte is the first player off the board after Hughes and Kakko. If Chicago doesn’t take him, there is a very good chance Joe Sakic and the Avalanche scouts run up to the stage to make the selection.