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NHL Draft

Turcotte showing off moves, skill en route to 2019 NHL Draft

Center, projected top-10 pick perfects 'The Alfie' made popular by father

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Alex Turcotte said it took four years before he finally perfected 'The Alfie,' a hockey maneuver made popular by his father, Alfie Turcotte, at the height of his professional playing days in the 1980s.

Alex (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), a left-hand center for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team, was 7-years-old when he felt comfortable enough to add the move into an already impressive collection of plays and shots.

"It's more of an instinctual, in the moment, type-move," Turcotte said. "You basically come down on a guy and do a toe-drag, he steps up on you and you push it back out and go, almost in a recovery style." 

It seems simple enough only because the 'The Alfie' is now one of the most used maneuvers in the NHL.

"Players don't even know it's 'The Alfie,'" Alfie Turcotte said. "Alex has perfected all of the moves I've taught him, for sure."

Alfie Turcotte played 112 NHL games in seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, who selected him in the first round (No. 17) of the 1983 NHL Draft. 

"He plays a team game better than I did," Alfie said of his son. "I was still learning as I went along in my professional ranks and he's already bypassed that. He's at a higher level than I was at a younger age with his team game and knowing when to give it up or go.

"He's a lot more disciplined than I was, too. I think he might be faster. I was quick but that was 35 years ago, and the game was different then."

Alex Turcotte, No. 5 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22, will likely become the most successful hockey-playing Turcotte. He's expected to be a top-10 choice in the 2019 draft and will play for the University of Wisconsin in 2020-21.

The 18-year-old has 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 27 games since returning to the lineup Dec. 15 after missing 22 games with a lower-body injury. He has 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) while averaging 1.77 points in 30 games this season.

"Sitting out with that injury was probably the hardest thing I ever did in my life," Turcotte said. "I just miss playing. You get anxious, you don't know when you're coming back and don't know what to expect when you get back. It was definitely the most challenging thing I've had to deal with."

NTDP coach John Wroblewski considers Turcotte one of the driving forces of the team.

"Alex plays an abrasive style and is a jackknife because he's got so many different tools," Wroblewski said. "Jack Hughes is our most electrifying player but Alex is right there as our most valuable player because his game just transcends so much in so many different areas. 

"He has grit, can slow it down, speed it up, bring it to the net or play on the half-wall."

Hughes, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American skaters, has played with Turcotte the past two seasons at the NTDP. He said he wouldn't be surprised if Turcotte, who billets with the Hughes family while attending the program in Plymouth, Michigan, was selected among the top-3 in 2019.

"He's a beast," Hughes said. "He plays a hard, heavy, skilled game and that's a tough combination to deal with. Not only does he score goals and make plays, but he's probably the best face-off guy on our team. A lot of his goals are net-front tips, rebounds and shots in front, proving he's not just a skilled guy who can score from the perimeter but a guy who goes to the net."

Turcotte has been working on his shot release and getting himself in better areas to use it. 

"Alex's personality is a blend between Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand because he's so agitating like Marchand but will never give you the time of day like Crosby," Wroblewski 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."

NTDP assistant coach and former NHL forward Dan Hinote, who specializes in face-offs, said Turcotte is working on becoming an efficient and consistent winner in the NHL on draws.

"His ability in the circle has a lot to do with his determination," Hinote said. "Face-offs come down to hand-eye, timing, compete, but Alex hates to lose at anything. He's that guy if you're walking through the same door, he's got to be one step ahead. It's just his nature, which is probably what drives him to be so good. His hand-eye is great, his concentration level off the charts, but he always wants to understand why he loses a face-off, too."

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