Blackhawks

'A childhood dream': Alex Turcotte hopes to follow in Jonathan Toews' footsteps with Blackhawks

'A childhood dream': Alex Turcotte hopes to follow in Jonathan Toews' footsteps with Blackhawks

Third overall pick in the NHL Draft, a year of college hockey after that, then off to the NHL soon to become captain of the Blackhawks.

That's the path Jonathan Toews took back in 2006, and it could just be the same path carved out for Alex Turcotte.

Turcotte, an 18-year old center expected to be a top-5 pick in the upcoming June draft, knows his fair share about Toews and the Blackhawks. After all, he grew up in Chicago rooting for them.

"That’s a childhood dream, I guess, growing up as Hawks fan," said Turcotte. "You always think of how cool it’d be to play for the Chicago Blackhawks. I think that’s the same for any kid that is from their hometown with a chance to go there. It would be really cool, but in the end I’d be happy anywhere in the NHL."

Turcotte was one of the names linked to the Blackhawks all week at the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo, and he confirmed he had multiple meetings with Chicago. So did prospects Bowen Byram, Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens, among others.

The Blackhawks once again hold the third overall pick, the same as they did in 2006 when they selected Toews third overall. And it's only fitting that Turcotte has drawn comparisons to the Blackhawks' captain.

"It’s Jonathan Toews so ... he’s going to be a future Hall of Famer. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer and he’s proven himself," Turcotte said. "If I could be half the player he is, that’d be pretty cool. Obviously who knows, only time will tell what’s going to happen but he’s definitely someone that I think I look up to and try to be like. Like I said, he’s a special player and he’s known to be a winner. I can only hope to be as good as him one day."

Similar to Toews, Turcotte's game has been described as "sandpaper and silk" by his United States National Team Development Program coach John Wroblewski.

"I think it’s a pretty good description," Turcotte said. "I think I have a lot of skill but also I’m not afraid to go to the dirty areas and then take it to the net, grind it out in the corners."

His teammates at the USNTDP are confident Turcotte's game will translate to the NHL. And they agree with the assessment of his style of play. 

Matthew Boldy called him "competitive" while Trevor Zegras called him "strong." Spencer Knight called him a "bulldog" while Cam York said, in one word, "beast."

Certainly high praise from his peers. 

Hockey runs in the Turcotte family. His father, Alfie, was a first round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1983. Alfie was selected 17th overall, and Alex figures to go much higher than that.

"Sometimes I chirp him a little bit about it. Just to give it to him a little bit," Alex said. "But as of today, he’s obviously the only one in my family that’s been drafted in the NHL and he’s gone the highest so far. He always reminds me of that. He always reminds me who has the most NHL point too so there’s really nothing I can say about it."

So how soon can Alex Turcotte potentially join the ranks of the elite in the NHL and surpass his father's 46 career points? That's the big question, as he's committed to play at the University of Wisconsin next season. 

"It’s hard to tell. You just have to take it a year at a time," Turcotte said. "Just really looking forward to it and just see how that year goes. And if I feel I’m ready then I’m ready. But definitely I’m keeping an open mind. And if I think I need more time, then so be it. I’m just going to take it a year at a time."

Toews was drafted in 2006 but returned to the University of North Dakota for another season before joining the Blackhawks in the fall of 2007. After one year, he was named the franchise's youngest ever captain. Only two seasons later, Toews captained the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. 

Alex Turcotte remembers it well. He was at the parade.

“I’ve never seen so many people in the streets obviously. It’s a special moment. The first cup in 49 years so it was pretty cool,” Turcotte said. “I just remember a lot of people just being crazy excited for the Hawks winning the Cup because it was so long. It’s definitely going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Report: Where could the NHL potentially finish the 2019-20 season?

Sunday night, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL and NHLPA have begun tossing around ideas for where the league could finish potential regular season or playoff games, if the COVID-19 pause were lifted.

The NHL pause went into effect on March 12 due to concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

Friedman reported one location discussed was North Dakota. 

"Several sites would be necessary, but Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., makes sense," he wrote. "Host of the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, it is an impressive facility that is definitely more suitable than many other available non-NHL options in the United States."

The NHL and NHLPA are expected to discuss other locations this week per Friedman. 

"The league and players must agree on any return-to-play scenarios," he added. "The players are very concerned about the potential of 35 per cent escrow on future paycheques, and whether or not the NHL will consider allowing that to be paid over multiple years. (CBA discussions are believed to be taking place.)"

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device. 

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks, NHL's salary cap

On March 4, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told general managers that the projected salary cap for the 2020-21 season is expected to be in the range of $84 million and $88.2 million. That's roughly a $2.5 million to $6.7 million increase after it went up only $2 million last season.

But eight days later, the NHL put its season on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's unclear if or when hockey will even resume at this point. Because of the uncertainty and the risk of the league potentially losing $1 billion in hockey-related revenue, there's legitimate concern about what the ceiling could look like after we get through this, and not just for next season.

Could the NHL's salary cap stay the same? Might it even go down to help ease the escrow pain for players? Anything is possible, but it would require both the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement on what that artificial number could look like.

If the salary cap remains flat, the Blackhawks would be one of the many teams that would find themselves in an extremely tough position. And they better start preparing for that scenario.

As of right now, the Blackhawks' projected cap hit for next season is $74.1 million, according to Cap Friendly. That number factors in the three players on long-term injured reserve (Calvin de Haan, Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw) but also includes the current players on the roster, which comes out to 26 total, so cuts obviously must be made to get down to the maximum of 23.

But what that number doesn't include is the potential performance bonus overages and the fact the Blackhawks don't have a goaltender signed beyond this season other than Collin Delia, which doesn't leave much room for free agent signings elsewhere. Heck, taking care of their own guys is going to be a major challenge.

The Blackhawks have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Corey Crawford is their highest-profile unrestricted free agent. Those are four key pieces the Blackhawks must try to squeeze in under the cap if the priority is to bring all of them back, and — loosely projecting — gives them around $9-10 million to do so.

You have to wonder if it makes more sense for everyone involved to agree on one-year deals and revisit things the following year after more clarity is provided on the NHL's financial situation, especially with Seattle preparing for league entry and the U.S. television deal set to expire after the 2021-22 season.

For now, the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL are waiting to see what the next steps are. But the financial ramifications will be significant, and it's something every team must now navigate through. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.