A look at the more confident, consistent and understanding Alex Turcotte, upon his return to the NHL

“I never really understood until this year, but you don’t need to be putting up points every game to be successful. That’s where I’m not overreacting to that, I know my time is going to come with that, but as long as I take care of the defensive side and play the right way, the other stuff will come and I’ve started to realize that. I don’t think I’ve really before I had much patience, because you’re out and you want to help the team right away and kind of overdo it. Now, it’s more like, if it’s not my night that way, I’m still going to try and make an impact on the game.”

That was Kings forward Alex Turcotte, speaking this morning with a lot of insight and perspective, following his first NHL game of the season. Turcotte was off to an incredibly productive start to the season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, but his game has gone well beyond the production. He has impacted games on a nightly basis with the AHL club and he’s done so in a variety of ways.

Minus a couple of smaller injuries this season, Turcotte has been relatively healthy. He’s also been relatively consistent, both through his level of play and his role in the lineup. Turcotte has lined up almost exclusively at center, forming a 1-2 punch with veteran T.J. Tynan, on an Ontario team that’s had some success when Turcotte has been in the lineup. For Turcotte, he’s enjoyed being a part of the group with Ontario, even though his ultimate aspirations – as is the case for just about every player – ultimately lie with the Kings.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Turcotte said. “I’ve been fairly healthy, apart from a few things, but overall, it’s been by far my best year pro and I don’t think that’s really up for debate. I’m enjoying it. We’ve got a great group of guys down there, a lot of really good players and I’m very lucky to be with those guys and they’ve obviously helped me a lot. It’s helped me offensively down there and I’m playing with a lot of confidence and I feel like things are coming together well.”

If you look at Turcotte’s season offensively, he’s currently producing at the best clip of his AHL career.

23 points from 28 games is good for 0.82 points-per-game, an improvement off his 0.62 career mark coming into the season. He’s already got career highs in goals (7), assists (16) and points (23). He’s a plus-player and he’s averaging more shots on goal per night than he has throughout his career. When he speaks about the confidence he’s playing with right now and he speaks about the team around him benefitting his offensive game, it’s no surprise, with how the numbers support the claim.

When he has his “A” game, Turcotte has been happy with his level of productivity and his level of production.

It’s the nights when he doesn’t though, when maybe the goals and assists aren’t there, when he feels he’s taken perhaps his largest step forward. It’s a part of a young player’s game that can be difficult to understand and even harder to achieve. We’ve heard it spoken about repeatedly at the NHL level. It can be a difficult adjustment for younger players to make, when they’ve scored their entire lives, to be able to contribute beyond the points at the professional level. Perhaps even harder is the ability to internally value those other contributions. Turcotte has produced this season, but he’s had plenty of games when he’s gone without a point as well. He feels he’s done a better job in those games, in those situations, than he did in years past.

“Sometimes you’re not always going to have your ‘A’ game but I feel like my ’B’ game’s grown a lot,” he said. “I feel like if the offense isn’t coming, I’m still good defensively, faceoffs, battling for pucks in the corners, those sort of things people don’t really talk about too much. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed is I’m just a lot more consistent, with being healthy.”

Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s that last word – healthy – that has certainly detoured Turcotte’s path to a permanent role with the Kings.

He’s never played more than 38 total games in any of his three professional seasons, which came in 2021-22 as he logged his first eight games with the Kings, in addition to 27 regular-season games with Ontario and three more in the playoffs. Outside of a couple minor things this season, which were not related to past problems, Turcotte has been in the lineup nearly every night with the Reign. With that consistent practice time, with that consistent game time has come, well, consistency. Within his play, Turcotte believes he’s established a level of consistency he hadn’t before as a professional. That’s been big.

“In years past, I’ve been so in and out that sometimes I’ll have a great game, maybe it’s five great games and there will be a couple of games where maybe things started slipping, some habits. I think that was just because I was missing so much time, you don’t have that practice and all that sort of stuff and kind of overthink it. I think this year, it’s been just playing every day, being able to practice every day for the most part and then you build those good habits and then you’re ready to go.”

Having that perspective perhaps makes Turcotte better equipped to handle the transition from the NHL to the AHL.

Sure there are other factors that make that jump hard. There’s pace, there’s physicality, there’s skill and there are simply fewer mistakes in an NHL game to capitalize on than at other levels. There’s also, though, a change in role for a player like Turcotte, who goes from being a top-six center with the Reign to the pivot on the fourth line with the Kings, at least that’s where he lined up on night one. That came with just shy of eight minutes of ice time on Sunday. It was a game that was obviously impacted pretty severely by penalties, as the Kings took six in total, which took guys like Turcotte out of the game a bit. The staff did work that line in though off a couple of timeouts and Turcotte got bumped up with Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore late in the game, when the lines got shuffled after a penalty.

Some signs of trust already, on a night when the eye-test showed an energetic player through the middle of the ice, who brought a bit of a jolt to the bottom six. Turcotte was on the ice for 13 shot attempts for, compared to just three against. The Kings allowed just one shot on goal with Turcotte on the ice and his numbers across most categories painted the story of a pretty tilted ice surface. Not bad, for a player playing his first NHL game of the season, in a role vastly different than the one he’s accustomed to.

Turcotte noted that change in roles and responsibilities from the AHL to the NHL, but also commented on how the Kings and Reign play the same way and use the same language, from coaches to players. That’s helped him with the transition.

“It’s a lot easier, we play exactly the same systems,” Turcotte said. “Sturmy is our coach, he was up here a couple of years ago, so everything’s pretty much the same, which makes it easier for us. I’ve also done a few camps now, went to Australia and I was around the team a lot at the start of the year, so I feel really comfortable. You just kind of go out there and play, you’re not really thinking.”

As it’s all come together for Turcotte over the last few months, he’s earned his way back to the Kings.

It’s where he wants to be and it’s where he’s earned the opportunity to be right now. You never know how things shake out after the All-Star break, as Blake Lizotte works his way back from injury, but that’s not to say Turcotte can’t force his way into the lineup in other ways. All he can do is control his next game. And, in talking with him today, that’s exactly what he’s gotten better at doing.

Rules for Blog Commenting

  • No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other comments, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • Please do not discuss, or post links to websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.

Repeated violations of the blog rules will result in site bans, commensurate with the nature and number of offenses.

Please flag any comments that violate the site rules for moderation. For immediate problems regarding problematic posts, please email zdooley@lakings.com.