2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Alex Turcotte

Alex Turcotte has been living in the shadow of Jack Hughes for the better part of two years.

Last season, with both players on the Under-17 team, Hughes was the first-line centre and Turcotte slid into the second-line spot. Hughes was called up to the Under-18 team and Turcotte took over from there, putting up great numbers and earning himself some games with the U18 squad.

For the 2018-19 campaign, both players made their way to the U18 team on a full-time basis and again it was Hughes as the No. 1 guy and Turcotte sliding into the No. 2 centre role.

The major difference this season to last for Turcotte is that he has battled some injuries throughout this year, resulting in his draft stock sagging early on in the season. But when he came back to the lineup, he showed that he is arguably the second-best centre in this draft class.

We’ll look at that and so much more in this profile on Alex Turcotte.

Bio

  • Age/Birthdate: 18 / Feb 26, 2001
  • Birthplace: Island Lake, IL, USA
  • Frame: 5-foot-11 / 185 lbs
  • Position: Centre
  • Handedness: Left
  • Draft Year Team: USNTDP
  • Accolades:
    • 2016-17
      • HPHL U16 Most Assists (24)
      • HPHL U16 Most Points (35)
    • 2017-18
      • U17 WHC Gold Medal
      • U18 WJC Silver Medal
    • 2018-19
      • U18 WJC Bronze Medal

2018-19 Stat Rundown

GP G A P INV% 5v5 Pr INV% 5v5 ePr60 SEAL Sh/GP Sh% 5v5 eTOI GF% GF%rel GD60 rel XLS% Top XLS% XPR
37 27 35 62 28% 20% 4.34 1.65 2.63 28% 12.6 80.0% 15.5% 2.55

(Editor’s note on the stats and charts in this article: the U.S. National Team Development Program is a unique program in that its roster plays in several different leagues over the course of the season. Typically, we’ve just used their stats against USHL competition. However, this year their NCAA stats have also been incorporated in some circumstances.

Games played, goals, assists, points and shot data include all U.S. NTDP games. Any data derived from game sheets (involvement percentage, eP60, SEAL data, and on-ice data), as well as any charts that reference “USDP” as the league refer to U.S. NTDP games against both USHL and NCAA competition. pGPS data is based off of USHL games alone.)

Scouting Report

Turcotte is the kind of player that jumps out at you every time he hits the ice.

The main attribute that stands out is his skating abilities. He is an excellent skater in all facets. He has very good acceleration and top speed, created from quick and active feet and long, powerful strides when space is afforded to him. Turcotte is elusive, agile, and uses his edges exceedingly well. All these aspects combine with a high motor, allowing him to push the pace everywhere on the ice.

It’s even more impressive how much these attributes stand out given that he battled some lower-body injuries in the first part of the season.

Turcotte can create offence while playing with speed, or he can slow things down and dictate the play. He loves to have possession of the puck; he can draw opponents to himself and then dance around them with his puck skills.

Turcotte is a very good passer that regularly threads pucks through opponents’ skates and traffic, hitting recipients on the tape. There are instances when lanes don’t appear to be there and then suddenly it’s on his teammate’s stick. An example of how good of a passer he is can be found on this pass to Jack Hughes:

He’s more of a playmaker but also has a fantastic wrist shot that explodes off his stick.

There is so much to like about his offensive game that it feels like that there is even more to give. His vision and passing ability allow him to make plays at such a high speed.

His defensive game is very mature for a player of his age. Since he is such a smart player and has such fantastic skater abilities, he is able to anticipate his opponents’ decisions before they even happen. This allows him to easily intercept long bombs, drop passes, or little flip passes and then quickly turn it back the other way.

Despite not being the biggest player, Turcotte does not shy away from battling along the boards or taking a hit to make a play. He engages opponents with his body on the defensive side of the puck and then simply out works them to obtain the puck. He seems to just to be constantly in his opponent’s space and always forcing them to make quick decisions.

Analysis

When it comes to the U.S. National Team Development Program, a team that is essentially a national all-star squad, it can be hard to figure out who is driving the play. This year was even trickier than usual because there were just so many good players. The team averaged an absurd 5.75 goals per game, calling into question the benchmark for “good” underlying numbers for individual players on the team. They were so dominant, particularly against USHL teams, that you have to adjust your threshold for what constitutes “impressive”.

All that said, Turcotte is without a doubt one of the top players out of this year’s crop. It may take him a couple of shifts to get his feet under him, but by the end of almost every game, Turcotte will leave you impressed.

Looking at the data, the first thing that stands out about Turcotte are his estimated points-per-60 rates:

He is well above all of his most common linemates while posting some ridiculously high goals-for percentage.

He was on the ice for very few goals against and quite a few goals for.

Aside from Matthew Boldy and Cole Caufield (both of whom were playing with Jack Hughes when they weren’t with Turcotte), Turcotte’s linemates posted better goal shares when with him compared to without him.

We like to use the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS) to give us a look at the likelihood that a player will become an NHL regular. Unfortunately for us, Turcotte produced at such a high rate that he has no matches. Turcotte was just simply too good to allow us to add this particular layer of analysis.

From my standpoint, I struggle to find an issue with Turcotte’s game from an eye-test and an analytical standpoint. If Hughes wasn’t there, Turcotte would’ve been the first-line centre for the team and there would likely be a lot more buzz about him. At this moment, he just seems to slide into the top five of everyone’s rankings and just gets skipped over in the dissection.

The injuries this season has made a lot of people sleep on just how good Turcotte is. He is a complete two-way player that has even more to give on the offensive side of the game. Turcotte is a top-ten lock, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he is the third player taken at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft next month.

Additional Charts and Data

Rolling Season Data

Team Relative

Adjusted Scoring

Further Reading

Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com, USHL.com, and collegehockeyinc.com.

Check out Alex Turcotte’s Prospect Shifts page here (paywall).