Kyle Turris: Realizing Potential in Ottawa

Kyle Turris’ hockey career didn’t start like that of most National Hockey League players. Instead of playing major junior in the Western Hockey League, Turris skated with the Burnaby Express of the BCHL, a Junior-A team. Turris put up huge numbers in his draft year, scoring 66 goals and 121 points in only 55 games.

Scouts were clearly impressed, but it was hard to compare Turris to other draft eligible players when he played against inferior competition. He was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes third overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft behind Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, but didn’t make the Coyotes in his first training camp with the team.

Turris went to the University of Wisconsin for his post-draft season and had 35 points in 36 games for the Badgers, and the following year, he made the Coyotes and spent 63 games in the NHL, while putting up 20 points. The next season, in 2009-10, Turris took a step back and spent the entire season in the American Hockey League. Following one more year back in the NHL with disappointing results for a player of his pedigree, Turris was traded to the Senators after asking to be dealt.

The first two seasons in Ottawa were also disappointing for Turris, as he had near-identical seasons of 29 points in 49 and 48 games.

For the Senators, patience really paid off. They had dealt David Rundblad and a second round pick to Phoenix for Turris, and it’s important to remember that at the time, Rundblad was a highly sought prospect.

Finally in 2013-14, Turris had a breakout season, posting 58 points, including 26 goals, while becoming a staple in the top six for Ottawa. He followed his breakthrough year with a 64-point campaign last year, and he is now the No. 1 centre for the Senators and in the conversation with sophomore Mark Stone as the top forward on the team. Turris has found a home in Ottawa that has benefited both parties, especially if he can continue his stellar chemistry with Stone.

With eight points in eight games in the young season, the question is: can he take things to another level? Turris is still only 26-years old, even though it seems like he has been in the league forever. There is still room for growth and progression here, and he will be getting plenty of opportunities. Turris will be on the top line, top power-play unit, and have chances to score throughout every game, including being on the ice for 3-on-3 overtime shifts. He was also named an assistant captain, showing that the Senators are placing the hope and expectation that Turris will be a core player and team leader for the next few years.

While the point-per-game mark is likely too lofty of an expectation, Turris should take another small step forward and hit the 70-point plateau, which is no small feat in today’s NHL. He is realizing the potential the Coyotes originally saw in him out of Junior-A, and he is making the Senators look awfully smart for snatching him up when the opportunity arose.