LA Kings: Alex Turcotte receives ringing endorsement on WJC play

LA Kings 2019 fifth overall pick Alex Turcotte had a strong finish to Team USA’s goal medal run. Here’s what ESPN writer Chris Peters had to say.

Alex Turcotte had a slow start to the 2021 World Juniors, as it was Anaheim Ducks’ top prospect Trevor Zegras consistently producing points. The LA Kings 2019 fifth overall pick was one of eight players returning for Team USA, but he failed to produce at last year’s tournament, as the Americans walked away without a medal.

If you recall, we pegged Turcotte as a breakout candidate in this year’s World Juniors. He started slow but finally broke through, scoring in the second period in the preliminary round against Sweden. It marked Turcotte’s first goal in WJC play, commencing a run of three-of-four games in which he scored.

Perhaps none more important, the 19-year-old lit the lamp against Team Canada in the Gold Medal game on Tuesday night, later proving to be the game-winning goal, as Team USA captured their first Gold Medal since 2017 — also against Team Canada.

I recently spoke with ESPN’s Chris Peters regarding what he liked about Turcotte’s game throughout the tournament.

“I thought Turcotte played some of the best hockey I’ve seen out of him during the tournament,” Peters said. “The slow start didn’t bother me because he was doing other things that helped. Nate Leaman said last night he had a good “B” game meaning when he’s not scoring, he still finds a way to contribute.”

“His ability to hunt pucks, make plays at the net front, win face odds and disrupt with speed were all things I noticed. His hockey sense is high end, too. He had a huge role in this team winning gold. This was a great sign for where his game is headed.”

Turcotte and the rest of the LA Kings prospects will now head to Los Angeles to join the team’s training camp. But due to NHL protocols, they’ll have to quarantine for eight days before getting on the ice. Although there is some chatter that because they are taking a private charter, their quarantine period could be eliminated altogether.

Turcotte is expected to begin the year with the Ontario Reign when the AHL season begins on February 5.

General manager Rob Blake indicated the top prospects of Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Turcotte would see a few games in the NHL this season but not enough to burn a year off their entry-level contracts.