The LA Kings drafted Alex Turcotte fifth overall in 2019, but he’s the only member of the Top-10 from that class who has yet to make his debut.
Alex Turcotte was drafted fifth overall by the LA Kings in 2019. He was coming off of a 62-point season with the U.S. National U18 team, and the hype for him was through the roof. On draft day, he was that play-making centerman who could play a solid two-way game and was the ideal top-five player in the draft class.
There was no reason why the Kings shouldn’t have taken him at fifth overall. And after a year of his draft, he certainly made a case for himself as a top-notch player. In 29 games at the University of Wisconsin, Alex Turcotte accumulated 26 points. Although it was a high-scoring season, the Island Lake, IL native wasn’t quite ready for the NHL. Therefore the Kings decided that sending him down to the Ontario Reign would be a good idea for his development. Initially, it was a great idea. The scheme was for him to have an extra year of playing in a high-level league while gaining confidence and making himself feel more comfortable with the Kings organization as a whole.
It was a great first season as a pro hockey player for Turcotte with Ontario, as he tallied 21 points in 32 games. During his time in the AHL in 2020-21, he looked like a fantastic two-way forward that could get points while creating offensive zone plays to get the important goals. Through 16 games with the Reign this season, Turcotte has notched 10 points, which isn’t necessarily perfect, but it’s still very solid for a 20-year-old.
The question which feels painfully repetitive is, “Why has Alex Turcotte not had a glance at the NHL level yet?”
We’ve seen players like Arthur Kaliyev (who was drafted in the same year as Turcotte) already earn a somewhat permanent spot on the team. Developing players in the AHL and the junior leagues are great decisions, but when you have these players sitting around down there for years without getting a single game in the NHL, that’s an issue.
The chances of Turcotte becoming an NHL player on the NHLe scale have bounced around year after year, but the troubling part is that it hasn’t gone above 73%. What’s even more concerning is how much his star probability has fallen off. On draft day, it was 68%, but as the years went by, that star probability fell.
The more the Kings shelter Turcotte in the AHL, the more the star probability falls, and the NHLe will also inevitably fall, too. One of the things that stands out is how he’s the only player out of the entire 2019 Top-10 that has yet to play an NHL game.
Granted, only eight of those other nine players are regulars, but it’s still mind-blowing that Turcotte hasn’t even gotten a shot in the NHL. Coaches and managers will refuse to play the young players until they’re fully developed and “ready to play.” Keeping him in the AHL, especially considering the Kings are struggling and need some sort of change in the lineup.
Sheltering Alex Turcotte from the NHL isn’t a good idea by any means, and it’s outrageous how he’s yet to see the daylight of the big leagues. At this point, the LA Kings aren’t even developing him; they’re burying him in the AHL and expecting him to perform. What’s the point of drafting a player fifth overall if you’re not going to give him a chance in the NHL? It’s time to give Turcotte a chance in the NHL.