Beyond the top two picks, the first round of this year's NHL Draft figures to be as unpredictable as ever.
Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, in some order, will almost certainly be the first two players off the board on June 21. After that, the consensus seems to be that it's a deep first round with a fairly wide range of players who could fall in the top 10.
Having said that, it's important to cast a wide net when trying to predict who the Sabres might select with the seventh overall pick. We started looking at potential names yesterday with USNTDP winger Cole Caufield. Today, we'll look at one of his teammates in center Alex Turcotte.
Alex Turcotte, C - USNTDP
Video: 1-on-1 with Alex Turcotte
Turcotte missed time last season due to a hip injury but still managed to put up 62 points (27+35) in 37 contests. He's drawn comparisons to Chicago forward Jonathan Toews for his well-rounded game, which blends creativity on offense, a willingness to go to the net and attention to detail in his own end.
The trait that comes up when talking to Turcotte's teammates at the US National Team Development Program is his competitiveness. His coach, John Wroblewski, went so far as to describe him to NHL.com as a blend of Sidney Crosby and Brad Marchand.
"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."
What he's saying
On his playing style: "I would say I'm a really competitive hockey player and person. I think that's why I play a 200-foot game. I'm someone that can really create offensively but can be relied on in defense ability."
On comparisons to Toews: "It's pretty cool. Growing up in Chicago, he's definitely an idol of mine, watching the Hawks all the way up. I mean, I'd be lucky to be just half as good as him."
What they're saying
USNTDP center (and potential No. 1 pick) Jack Hughes: "I think his engine, his motor, the way he plays, how skilled he plays and how hard he plays at the same time, I like to compare him to [Colorado forward Nathan] MacKinnon a little bit. I mean, MacKinnon's a top-three player in the league, but I think the way Turks plays with his skill and hardness at the same time, I think that's unbelievable. … He kind of prides himself on his hard work."
USNTDP defenseman Domenick Fensore: "He's a warrior. The way he battled this year, what he had to overcome. He's just a good example of a fearless guy on our team. He's a real leader in our locker room this year. … He's a guy you've got to compete with. He's not going to let off the gas."
Why he could be picked at 7
Remember what we said about this draft being unpredictable? Adam Kimelman and Mike Morreale of NHL.com both have Turcotte going third overall to Chicago in their most recent mock draft. TSN's Craig Button has Turcotte at 10th in his most recent prospect rankings. In TSN's Mock Draft 4.0, Turcotte goes to the Sabres.
See what we mean? If Turcotte does fall to the Sabres, he would represent a talented addition to the organization's center depth with a track record for leadership.