The LA Kings have agreed to terms with University of Wisconsin forward Alex Turcotte, their fifth overall pick from 2019, on a three-year entry-level contract. Turcotte will report to Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate in Ontario, where he’ll practice with the club Thursday in El Segundo.
I haven’t spoken directly with Alex about this, but there seemed to be a prevailing sense before he returned from his knee injury one month ago that he was more likely to return to Madison for his sophomore season than turn pro. But the team has kept close tabs on him, and General Manager Rob Blake was encouraged by his ability to recover and thrive. “Missed some time with a knee injury there. Since he’s been back, he’s been good,” Blake recently shared with LAKI.
In the six regular season games after his injury, he totaled three goals, 10 points and 16 shots on goal before he was held without a point in Ohio State’s two-game sweep of Wisconsin in the first round of the Big Ten men’s hockey tournament. By last weekend, it was looking like the Kings were poised to offer him a contract, though it remained to be seen whether he’d sign it.
But there were some light hints towards turning pro in Scott Wheeler’s recent piece from The Athletic, which also detailed Turcotte’s final days of rehabilitation in Madison ($):
When the meeting ends, Granato bumps into Turcotte as they both exit the room.
“How do you like blue?” he says of Turcotte’s jersey colour, which indicates he’s injured.
“I normally chirp blue,” Turcotte answers.
At today’s practice, Turcotte is still trying to find out what is the best solution for his knee. He has experimented with a brace but he finds it bulky, preferring athletic trainer Andy Hrodey heavily tape his knee.
Throughout practice, Turcotte comes to the bench to complain about the size of his right shin pad. On the ice, though, he skates hard, showing no signs of injury.
Turcotte will play the remainder of the year with the Reign on an ATO before his contract kicks in next season. It’s assumed that he’ll receive the maxed-out ELC, which would carry a $925K cap hit and expire after 2022-23, but I’ll try to confirm that at tonight’s game. Though green, there’s a tremendous pool of young centers in the organization underneath Anze Kopitar. Blake Lizotte is 22, Gabriel Vilardi, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Akil Thomas and Tyler Madden are 20 and Turcotte is 19. 2018 first round pick Rasmus Kupari turns 20 on Sunday but appears to be among those ultimately ticketed for a move to wing. (He’s been in the South Bay rehabbing a knee injury and isn’t expected to return to action this season after suffering a knee injury early in the World Junior Championship that required surgery to repair a torn ACL.)
In other Big Ten-related prospect news, Cole Hults is a finalist for the Big Ten Player of the Year:
— Big Ten Hockey (@B1GHockey) March 11, 2020
As LAKI reported a year ago, expect Hults to sign upon the conclusion of his season. That will take a little bit longer, because the Nittany Lions are about to host Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinals, rank seventh in the Pairwise rankings and are bound for the NCAA tournament. The junior defenseman has eight goals, 30 points and a plus-23 rating in 34 games in State College and wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves during his earlier stint for USHL-Madison.
More to come from Staples Center…
Via LAKings.com, here’s the official release:
The LA Kings have agreed to terms with forward Alex Turcotte on a three-year entry-level contract beginning in the 2020-21 season, according to Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake. Turcotte will report to the Ontario Reign, the organization’s American Hockey League affiliate, and is expected to practice with the team tomorrow at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.
Turcotte, the fifth overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, recently completed his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin (NCAA). The 19-year-old forward posted 26 points (9-17=26) in 29 games with the Badgers to rank third on the team in points (26) while also tying for third in both goals (9) and assists (17). His .897 points-per-game also ranked second on the Badgers and sixth among college freshmen nationwide.
Prior to joining Wisconsin, the native of Island Lake, Ill. played two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). The 5-11, 190-pound forward appeared in 95 games with USNTDP where he registered 125 points (45-80=125) between the Under-17 and Under-18 teams. In 2018-19, his 1.68 points-per-game ranked second among all skaters while his 80 career assists is tied for 10th in program history.
Internationally, Turcotte has represented Team USA on three separate occasions, playing in the IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in 2018 and 2019 as well as the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2020. At the U-18 level, he helped bring home a silver medal in 2018 and a bronze medal in 2019 and tallied 14 points (6-8=14) in 14 games to tie for the 10th most career points by a U.S. player in tournament history. In his first World Junior Championship, Turcotte notched two points (0-2=2) in five games.