Kings’ Alex Turcotte and Ducks’ Trevor Zegras are ready to soak in sun and the new rivalry
Once the spectacle and the awe of the NHL draft set in, Alex Turcotte could feel the emotion of it.
He was like any other teenager selected Friday, but it really hit home when the Kings picked him fifth overall and he thought of his father, Alfie, a former NHL forward who has guided him every step of the way.
“I think he’s just really happy for me and proud, and I think that’s the coolest part,” Turcotte said. “He’s so important to me. He’s helped me so much, on and off the ice, and without him, I wouldn’t be here. To have him there is just unbelievable. He’s always been my biggest fan. For him, this is really important for the rest of my family. It’s just such a cool moment.”
Turcotte can now focus on starting his NHL journey with U.S. national development squad teammate Trevor Zegras, a fellow forward chosen ninth by the Ducks. Both teams kept their first-round picks on a quiet night on the trade front, as the Kings selected defenseman Tobias Bjornfot at No. 22 and the Ducks chose winger Brayden Tracey at No. 29.
Turcotte gives the Kings an impact center considered one of the best two-way players in the draft. He was well aware that he might someday be teammates with Anze Kopitar.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, and it’s just so cool that being in the same organization as him,” Turcotte said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Turcotte is committed to Wisconsin to play for former Kings forward Tony Granato. His uncle, Jeff, is a coach in the Jr. Kings program and Turcotte has visited Manhattan Beach, among other locales.
“I’ve been down there the past three summers and I kind of have a feel for it,” Turcotte said. “It’s definitely a great place to live, and it’s pretty cool.”
Zegras might someday face off against Turcotte in the rivalry, but “honestly, I can’t even think about that,” he said. “That’s so funny. But I’m so happy for him. He worked so hard. He deserves it.
“It’s so awesome. I ran into Alex outside and gave him a big hug. It’s so surreal. I couldn’t have really thought about this in a million years.”
Zegras could give Turcotte a run for his money as a playmaking forward with good vision and speed. Like Turcotte, he’ll hone his game in college, at Boston University.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray said he didn’t think Zegras would be available at No. 9, and he was glad to grab two capable forwards.
“The hockey IQ on both is very good,” Murray said. “They’re both very smart. They have very good hands .They both see the ice really well. And we’ve got to, obviously, improve our offense over the next how many years. This is a good start today.”
As expected, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko were the first two selections, by the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, respectively. The big shakeup came with the No. 6 pick, when the Detroit Red Wings went off the boards and chose German defenseman Moritz Seider.
The lack of trades was related to the new salary cap, which has not been announced and is expected to fall between $81.5 million and $82 million, or less than the $83 million that was initially thought. The holdup was reportedly because the NHL Players’ Assn. has yet to sign off on the number.
“The PA is holding up everything, as usual,” Murray said. “It’s going to be $81.5 [million] or $82 [million], we think, and that means a lot of teams could have issues. You can sense that everybody’s a little apprehensive at the moment. You feel it.”
Kings general manager Rob Blake said he won’t spend to the cap ceiling. “We understand our position on the cap for the next couple of years, regardless if it comes in a million or two under the models we’re using,” he said.
Bjornfot, who represents the pick acquired in the trade of Jake Muzzin, did provide Blake with a piece to improve the defense. The Kings were sold on his leadership, having served as captain for Sweden in international competition.
“I take big responsibility on and off the ice,” Bjornfot said.
Bjornfot said he is signed with his Swedish club for the next two seasons, but he expects to meet with the Kings and “maybe get some tan before I go back to Sweden.”
Cam York and Ryan Johnson made history as the two highest drafted Orange County players ever taken. York went 14th to the Philadelphia Flyers and Johnson went 31st, to the Buffalo Sabres. Both played for the Jr. Ducks.
Johnson was the final pick of the night at Rogers Arena, to the disappointment of Murray.
“We were hoping he would be there [Saturday],” he said.
The Kings’ home opener is Oct. 12 against the Nashville Predators. The Ducks will open at home on Oct. 3 against the Arizona Coyotes. The full regular season schedule will be released Tuesday …
Tod Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of Seattle’s NHL team, said a nickname and team colors have not been decided and that he could hire a general manager this summer. Seattle will debut in the 2021-22 season.
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