Alex Turcotte is a name that stands out in the Los Angeles Kings’ deep prospect pool.
He was selected fifth overall by the Kings in last year's NHL Entry Draft and is likely to be a key piece in the team's rebuild. After a year in the NCAA, Turcotte signed his entry-level contract in March and is expected to make the jump to professional hockey next season– but it’s a matter of whether he starts that journey with Ontario or Los Angeles that's in question.
His numbers were strong, though not exceptional this year, scoring nine goals and 26 points in 29 games with the University of Wisconsin. Turcotte's point per game average was slightly lower than Trevor Zegras' PPG average, who went ninth overall in 2019, as well as Joel Farabee’s in 2018-19, the year after Farabee was selected 14th overall.
I had previously listed Turcotte as part of the Kings' 2020-21 lineup projection I did back in May, but I’m starting to shift the other way now and personally, I think I’m on board with him beginning the season in Ontario (getting the second-overall pick did affect my opinion). The Kings will already have a few prospects to find room for in the lineup, likely including Gabriel Vilardi and now whoever is taken with that second-overall pick. Having to factor Turcotte into the lineup on top of this while giving each prospect a role they can succeed in would be very difficult.
My opinion: give him a trial run but if he needs more development, there’s no reason to rush him. He’s still just 19 years old and the Kings don't need to put him into a role he’s not yet capable of. So long as he doesn’t play more than nine games, his contract will also slide and a year won't be burned.
It’ll also give the Kings a chance to answer an important question, being whether or not Turcotte is a good choice to play center at the professional level. The Kings are soon to have a ton of depth down the middle and while he should certainly get a shot at playing center in the AHL, there's always the option to shift Turcotte to the wing.
Considering the AHL does plan to start in early December, it’s possible we see Turcotte with Ontario when the season begins. But how long it will be before he takes a spot in the Kings’ lineup remains up in the air.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):