Welcome to the FFUD #3 Pick Preview. Each day, we’ll look at one prospect the Hawks might have a chance at with the #3 pick and walk you through the ins and outs, the what-have-yous, the strands going through ol’ Duder’s head. We’ve narrowed it down to five guys, and much like the restaurant chain, you’ll likely walk in thinking, “This was a good idea,” and walk out grabbing or clenching some part yourself that you shouldn’t have to. Today is Alex Turcotte.
Height: 5’11”; Weight: 185 lbs.; Shot: Left
On-Ice Stats (2018-19)
League: USHL/USDP; Team: USNTP Juniors/USNTP U18; Position: Center
53 GP, 39 G, 57 A, 36 PIM (Combined)
Why The Hawks Should Take Him
You rarely come across a player with the combination of offensive skill and defensive prowess at the center position that Turcotte brings. The last time the Hawks were in this position with a #3 pick, they found themselves one Jonathan Toews, and I’d venture a hot take and say that pick worked out. Turcotte has drawn comparisons to Toews, and some even have fentured to say that he may have a tad more offensive ability than Toews did at the time of his draft.
Turcotte’s ceiling is probably that of a 1C, although there are legitimate questions about A) his ability to reach that ceiling and B) how high he ranks on the list of 1C’s if/when he’s there. While the comparisons to Toews are certainly nice, I am of the belief that if NHL scouts really thought he had that kind of ceiling, he’d be the #2 pick in the draft. With all due respect to Kaapo Kakko, if it’s me I am taking the future 1C over the future top line winger.
Turcotte’s scoring ability seems to project well to the NHL, as some models (like this one) think he could be among the top producers at the NHL level among players in this draft. However those projection models are hardly 100% accurate, so of course take that with a grain of salt. That being said, at his ceiling Turcotte could be a franchise-anchoring center, and the Hawks don’t have anyone really close to that in the system right now. I love Dylan Strome and think there’s still a shot he can be a #1, but he’s more likely a long-term high-level 2C, which is perfectly fine. Turcotte’s timeline to the NHL and being that anchor of a team seems likely to align well with Toews eventual descent from greatness, but that also could be considered a negative as we will see now.
Along with it all, Turcotte is a local guy, which is certain to be a marketing home run and keep the giardiniera soaked idiots on their couches pleased.
Why The Hawks Shouldn’t Take Him
Let’s just rip off the band-aid here: the Hawks shouldn’t take him because he’s not Bowen Byram. More generally, he isn’t a defenseman, and while the 1C-ceiling type prospect is lacking in this organization, the Hawks don’t necessarily need to find one right away. Toews is coming off a strong “bounce-back” year in which the bad-luck bug finally left him alone. And while I did just say Strome is probably not a future-1C, we’re still only three years and 106 NHL games removed from NHL scouts thinking he was one, and he was nearly a point-per-game player after coming to the Hawks, and he’s still only 22, which all adds up to mean that he probably should get a bit more time to show if that ceiling is still there.
On top of that, Turcotte is not ready to play at the NHL level next year, and while that doesn’t necessarily have to be a priority with your #3 pick, it would certainly be nice to add someone who can contribute right away and has a high-level ceiling you lack in the system. You don’t get an opportunity like that in the draft if you’re not in the top-3, and the Hawks weren’t supposed to be here, so they have to maximize the return here.
On top of all of that, the Hawks picking a center when they so clearly need to address the blue line both now and in the future would signal a major lack of of what I call Knowing Just What The Fuck We Are Doing Here. We’ve talked about the embarrassment of riches the Hawks think they have on the blue line due to the NHL players (a term applied very loosely to most of the guys on the main roster) and prospects they have, but they lack major upside on anyone, unless you’re higher on Adam Boqvist than most, which I admittedly might be. But adding someone like Byram to the organization would actually put you in a position of strength, especially when you’d then have two of the better right-shooting blue line prospects in the game to potentially flip in the future for, say, a player who might have a ceiling as a 1C.
On top of that, Turcotte is a local guy, which certainly has the Hawks pitching a tent but has never proven to work out for them (Hinostroza, Hartman, Hayden, etc. WHY DID THEY ALL START WITH H?!?!). Not that being from Illinois means he is not the player people think he is, but if that ends up actually playing into his decision we have yet another red flag on this organization’s evaluative standards.
Also, you might end up handing Colorado a future pairing of Byram and Cale Makar, which would be grounds for firing on the stage immediately.
Picking Turcotte would be fine, and I won’t necessarily be mad about it. But it has potential to be a major fuck up, would present a clear lack of understanding on the front office’s part of how to get back into contention, and I would definitely be disappointed.