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2019 NHL Draft Profile: Alex Turcotte has the makings of a star

The 18 year old may not be Jack Hughes, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the best players of the 2019 draft class.

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Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The major focus on the USA Hockey program this season has been of course the projected first overall pick for seemingly two years now, Jack Hughes. However, there’s a lot more talent in the USA Hockey pipeline, and one of those names is Alex Turcotte. The 18 year old Wisconsin Badger-commit was a force this season on an already stacked team, and has all the tools to be a top line player at the NHL level.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: Alex Turcotte

Position/team: C/USNTDP Juniors, USHL (University of Wisconsin commit)
2018-19 Statistics: 12 G, 22 A in 16 GP
Size: 5’11” 185

Pre-draft rankings

No. 4 (NA Skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 5 by Future Considerations
No. 4 by ISS Hockey
No. 3 by Pronman/The Athletic

What’s there to like?

A whole lot, as a matter of fact. Turcotte possesses one of the more explosive games in this year’s draft class outside the obvious in Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. Something that I noticed a lot in him is the different ways he can beat defensemen and the goalie. His speed isn’t dominant like his USA teammate in Hughes, but when he gets going he’s tough to stop. Not only does he possess a good top speed, but he’s elusive and can break the puck out efficiently with his skating talent alone. Combine this with his stellar ice vision, passing ability, and dangles you have a multi-dimensional center breakout option that is extremely difficult to defend against.

And there in lies potentially Turcotte’s greatest ability: to drive play. Turcotte is able to push play with simply his skating with how explosive he becomes at top speed and his elusiveness. These abilities are so vital in today’s NHL and especially at the center position. If you have a center who can break the puck up with ease, it makes the defensemen’s job all the more simple and relieves some of the pressure they face to carry the puck. As seen by the following data from the fantastic Mitchell Brown, Turcotte enters the zone almost just as well as Jack Hughes.

Despite his smaller stature at just 5’11” Turcotte consistently hovers around the crease. He’s not afraid to mix it up down low and be physical with his opposition which creates another facet that teams have to prepare for. He’s not going to be a wrecking ball out there, but he’s physical enough that defensemen are going to think twice about the guy chasing them.

Not only does Turcotte wow you with his offensive abilities, he’s no slouch defensively either. His 185 pound frame allows him to compensate for his height, and makes him all the more difficult to deal with offensively and defensively. He’s routinely in position in his own zone and is relentless with his puck pursuit. His aggressive forechecking combined with his speed to recover and overall hockey instincts make him a true threat on the defensive side of the puck.

He’ll never be the goal scorer that his teammate Cole Caufield is, but his passing ability combined with scoring wingers should make for a dynamic line. Turcotte’s natural passing ability combined with his elite hockey sense to know where the puck and his teammates are and are going to be, make him a lethal threat on the offensive side of the puck. I envision him being an elite play-driving forward at the NHL level with the ability to rack up high assist numbers. Turcotte is easily (if you couldn’t tell by now) one of my favorite players of this draft class.

What’s not to like?

Honestly the only true fault with Turcotte is for a centerman, he’s not the biggest guy in the world. But once again with his tenacity on the forecheck and overall pace of play, I don’t see it being a major issue. If he can get closer to the 200 pound mark and still retain his speed and explosiveness, I think it would easily compensate his height at the NHL level. If not, worst case he moves to the wing where he can still be a dynamic playmaker and solid defensive winger.

How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?

He would be right there with Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee and that’s not even up for debate. Turcotte is by far one of the most talented forwards of this draft class and one of the most well-rounded ones as well. He would be a top prospect in the organization the moment he’d be drafted, but sadly, I can’t imagine a way he slips that far.

Could the Flyers actually get him?

Which leads me to the next point of no, I don’t conceive a way where the Flyers do get him. The only way I can envision the Flyers drafting Alex Turcotte is by trading up into the top five which doesn’t seem likely. If the Flyers are going to trade the 11th overall pick it seems more than likely it will be trading for a proven NHL talent, rather than acquiring another draft pick in the process. It would be a massive surprise if he falls even outside the top seven and hell if he slips outside of the top five I’d be on the phones immediately looking to get a deal done. The Flyers do have nine draft picks to spare, so might as well use them to get a guy like Turcotte.

Highlights

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