EDMONTON, AB - Much like how they shared the spoils of a dominating season with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Alex Turcotte and his teammates shared in the experience of the NHL Scouting Combine and its many fitness tests and interviews.
"There were only 13 teams I talked to, and there weren't any really surprising questions," Turcotte, speaking to EdmontonOilers.com at the combine, said.
"I know a couple of my buddies got asked some weird ones," he smirked.
The forward is one of seven USNTDP products expected to be selected in the first round of this weekend's NHL Draft in Vancouver, and exceptional playmaking and great skating has Turcotte up there with the best of the bunch as a consensus top-eight pick.
Video: COMBINE | Alex Turcotte
Above all, he has the compete level and the ability to burn, dangle, or flat out go through defencemen without hesitation, even at 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds. Born in the Chicago suburb of Island Lake, Illinois, Turcotte grew up idolizing Jonathan Toews and draws a lot of comparisons to the three-time Stanley Cup champion.
Turcotte's father Alfie played an important role in setting his son on the right path, and his Portland Winterhawks team of 1982-83 draws a lot of comparisons to the USNTDP of today after winning the Memorial Cup with a number of future NHLers like Cam Neely, Ray Ferraro, Jim Playfair, and Brian Curran.
"He was a really successful junior player and played 15 years of pro, which is kind of rare," Turcotte said. "It's pretty cool to have him by my side showing me the ropes and giving me some pointers. I think it can only help you, and he's definitely made me into the player and person I am today."
The left-shot centre recorded 27 goals and 35 assists for 62 points in 37 games with the U.S. U18's this past season, missing extended time due to injury and illness. We can only speculate if Turcotte could've been in conversation for one of the draft's top two spots occupied by teammate Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko if he could've stayed healthy after being considered a top prospect for a number of years.
"I think I can get a lot stronger in the lower body and upper body to become more physically developed," Turcotte said. "I think I'm at a good base right now, but I've been out with an injury and sickness this year and missed a lot of training. I can definitely get stronger. On the ice, I can definitely improve my shot."