Kings sign forward Alex Turcotte to a 3-year contract

The Kings have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $775,000 annually with 2019’s No. 5 overall pick Alex Turcotte, both the Kings and the Ontario Reign announced in news releases Saturday.

The dual proclamations from the parent club and its top minor-league affiliate were apropos since Turcotte has played 91 games at the American Hockey League level but just 32 in the NHL. Those appearances came across four seasons since Turcotte left the University of Wisconsin, where he played for former King Tony Granato.

Turcotte, 23, has dealt with multiple injuries, most notably a pair of harrowing concussions. Between time missed and developmental setbacks, he has played 49 fewer NHL games than any other top 10 pick in his draft year, 105 fewer than the next least-utilized forward from that top 10 and 274 fewer than the most-seasoned prospect from his draft.

He was to be an essential piece in the Kings’ rebuild, but instead he and his 2019 draft mates have been something of a symbol of its futility.

Turcotte’s multitude of setbacks lie alongside the stagnation and ultimate loss to waivers of fellow 2019 first-rounder Tobias Bjornfot. The Kings selected Arthur Kaliyev with the second round’s second pick, but he was persona non grata down the stretch last season and seems all but certain to be donning another jersey this fall. Another second-rounder, Samuel Fagemo, was lost to waivers and later reclaimed, and has played just 17 games for the Kings. Third-round selection Lukas Parik, a goalie, was never signed by the Kings and eventually returned to Czechia. Fourth-round selection Kim Nousiainen had his contract terminated earlier this offseason by the Kings and may be bound for his native Finland.

But at least the 2019 draft brought in Jordan Spence – whose future may be uncertain despite his strong playoff showing, given his restricted free agent status and the Kings’ logjam at right defense – whereas the 2018 draft produced only two players who have even dressed for the Kings. One was the largely disappointing and since departed first-round pick Rasmus Kupari. The other was Akil Thomas, who finally earned a seven-game cup of coffee at age 24 in 2023-24.

Turcotte and Thomas have excellent opportunities to crack the main roster this upcoming season, given the dearth of offensive production and abundance of contractual fluidity in the Kings’ bottom six.

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Thomas, who has also dealt with injuries including serious shoulder issues, notched three goals and an assist despite playing barely 60 minutes cumulatively. Turcotte recorded the same four points, but in 20 games, including nine in which he played double-digit minutes and even got some looks on the top line.

Yet there was more to Turcotte’s progress than just increased playing time, as he appeared more fit and imposing than in past seasons thanks to a relatively unfettered summer of training. Should he recapture some of the luster that made him a coveted prospect five years ago, Turcotte’s minimal $775,000 salary could prove a shrewd investment even if sinking a premium pick into him has not.

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