Alex Turcotte, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
Age on Draft Day: 18.33 Years Old
Height/Weight: 5’11, 185 pounds
2018-2019 Stats (USHL Only): 16 GP, 12 G, 22 A, 14 PIM
NHL Central Scouting (North America only): 4th
ISS Hockey: 6th
Bob McKenzie: 7th
Craig Button: 8th
Alex Turcotte is a well-rounded player who makes his impact on the game in a number of ways.
First and foremost, he is a strong skater. His strides are anything but laborious, as he gets up the ice in a hurry and pivots efficiently when changing direction. Combine that with a very high motor, and Turcotte plays an up-tempo game. He’s a strong forechecker who does not shy away from contact and fights for inside positioning.
Turcotte has what I’d describe as sneaky skill. He’s not a player who is going to overwhelm with crazy moves, but in 1v1 situations he can leave defensemen wrong-footed and create offensive chances by himself.
Though he is fairly balanced in terms of offensive contributions, I’d deem him more of a passer than a shooter. His passing game is more about patience rather than precision. It’s not that he’s pulling off crazy feeds, but rather that he’s very good at waiting for passing lanes to open and then finding teammates in dangerous positions.
Though he is not the biggest guy on the ice, he is strong and determined. He played in the slot on the USA’s power play and he does a fair amount of his scoring in the dirty areas of the ice.
He was a top penalty kill option for his team. To start the season I noticed that he was prone to flying by the puck, trying to create a clean pick-six. In turn, that put him out of position and gave the opposition easier neutral zone access.
However, this was likely more about trying to make a home run play rather than laziness. He was more diligent in his coverages as the season went on, and I don’t believe this will become a long-term problem.
Turcotte is a tough one to figure out for a few reasons. First, he’s played second-fiddle to Jack Hughes for the last couple of seasons (not to mention a battle for the spotlight from Trevor Zegras as well). Furthermore, he missed roughly half of the season with various injuries and ailments. When looking at top-five prospects for a draft, typically there will be a trait or two that immediately stand out as elite. I’m not sure Turcotte has that. To be honest, it took me quite a while to understand the hype surrounding Turcotte.
But I now get it. He is greater than the sum of his parts. Maybe he doesn’t have a standout ability, but they’re all B+ or A- across the board. He’s a high octane player who combines ample speed and skill to put opposing players on their heels at all times. He’s a tenacious forechecker who creates a ton of offense for his team by winning races and forcing turnovers, then immediately turning them into net-front chances for his team.
What’s more, even if he didn’t leave a strong impression through video, the statistics are undeniably astonishing. Turcotte had the highest points-per-game mark on the USNTDP; yes, higher than Jack Hughes. In fact, Turcotte has the highest single season points-per-game total in USNTDP history.
Granted, it’s a small sample, but this tracking data done by The Athletic’s Mitch Brown shows just how well-rounded Turcotte is. He scores, he sets up teammates, he creates zone entries, and, in general, he keeps pucks in the offensive end of the ice.
If we were evaluating by data alone, Turcotte would be a near lock to be third overall in this draft, and though we rank him fifth, he would be as good of a pick as any after Hughes and Kakko are taken.
Turcotte will head to Wisconsin next season, joining New York Rangers’ prospect K’Andre Miller. It would not be surprising if he was a one-and-done college player, as he has the skill, smarts, and strength to turn pro in the near future. I’m not sure there’s enough in his toolkit to become an elite NHL player, but he is so well rounded that he certainly has first-line center potential.
What Others Have Said
“Just the way he carries himself on the ice is very annoying to the other team because he’s so good and so versatile. He can go right through you or dangle you.”
- USNTDP Head Coach John Wroblewski, via NHL.com
Turcotte is an absolute beast who plays much bigger than his size.
- Chris Peters, ESPN