Heading into the 2014 NHL entry draft, the Detroit Red Wings had Dominic Turgeon ranked as a first-rounder.
So with Turgeon — the son of Pierre Turgeon, one of the greatest scorers in NHL history — still sitting there as the third round rolled by, the Red Wings decided not to take the chance of waiting until their pick at No. 75.
Instead, they swapped the No. 75 pick along with a 2015 third-rounder to the Columbus Blue Jackets and grabbed Turgeon 63rd overall.
“We had him in our top 30 and we saw it as a chance to get in the third round a first-rounder,” said Red Wings chief amateur scout Jeff Finley. “It was a good opportunity to try and do what we could and move up to make sure we got him.”
Turgeon, a center with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, was ranked 97th among North Americans by Central Scouting after moving up 33 slots from the mid-term ranking. He was also rated 94th overall by The Hockey News.
The 6-foot-1, 196-pounder posted modest numbers for Portland, with 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 65 games. But on a powerhouse team that has been to four straight WHL titles, Turgeon excelled in a third-line role.
“He was outstanding as a two-way center,” Finley said. “You can tell his dad has had an influence on his game. He’s very responsible, great on faceoffs, their No. 1 penalty-killer, blocks shots, always in the right position to support the puck in all three zones. In those parts of the game, he’s very mature for a young player. He understands and takes pride in those parts of the game.”
NHL Network analyst Dave Reid knocked Turgeon’s skating, noting he has to get his “feet moving” and that he’s “not overly talented with the finish.” Added TSN scout Craig Button: “He’s not like his father.”
But the Red Wings — notably Finley and director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright — caught glimpses of offensive skill that might surprise some when Turgeon gets a top-six role with Portland in 2014-15.
“He didn’t get any power-play time last seaosn — and when I say he didn’t get any power-play time, he got zero power-play time,” Finley said. “That’s where a lot of kids pick up a lot of stats at the junior level.
“We’ve seen some things as far as the offensive upside and we hope with a bigger opportunity he’ll be able to show a little bit more than what his numbers were this year.”
Finley described Turgeon as a “strong skater” who is “strong on the puck, plays a heavy game, protects the puck well and knows how to play below the circles.”
“We think his game translates well to today’s NHL,” Finley said. “Whether or not he’ll be an offensive guy as a professional, that remains to be seen, but we like the rest of his game as far as upside and potentially as a third-line center down the road.
“We’re thrilled to get him.”