The Kings locked up a cornerstone piece of their future Wednesday by agreeing to terms with former first-round draft pick Alex Turcotte on a three-year entry level contract.
The No. 5 overall selection in last summer’s NHL draft will report to the club’s minor league affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and is expected to practice at its El Segundo headquarters Thursday.
Considered the top prospect in a Kings pipeline ranked by multiple outlets as the NHL’s best, the 19-year-old center is turning pro after completing his one and only college campaign at the University of Wisconsin.
Turcotte is expected to spend the remainder of this season in the American Hockey League with the Reign (he will technically play the rest of the season on an “amateur try-out” deal before his entry-level contract kicks in next year) but still joins a crop of other young centers in the Kings organization (a group that includes Blake Lizotte, Gabriel Vilardi, Michael Amadio and Jaret Anderson-Dolan among others) that will be competing for NHL roster spots next year.
Turcotte’s contract is slated to run through the 2022-23 season, his anticipated professional arrival coming in the midst of the Kings’ transition toward the future. Currently, captain Anze Kopitar is the only full-time Kings center with more than three years of NHL experience.
A 5-foot-11,190-pound playmaker, Turcotte is known for his solid hockey sense and strong two-way game. Growing up outside of Chicago, he impressed scouts with his performance on club teams and earned a spot in the U.S. national development team program. After scoring 125 points in 95 games there, he climbed draft boards last year and became the Kings’ highest overall selection since 2009.
At Wisconsin this season, Turcotte racked up 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 29 games before the Badgers season ended on Saturday with a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament.