Being the son of an NHLer is a blessing and a curse. The blessings are obvious: Not only do you get those athletic genes, but also access to dressing rooms growing up and tons of great training advantages. The curse is that the media will never shut up about who your dad is.
So let’s take a look at 2014 draft prospects Ryan MacInnis and Dominic Turgeon from a different angle. Sure, they are the progeny of Al MacInnis and Pierre Turgeon respectively, but the two big pivots actually share more than just famous bloodlines.
Both play for well-run major junior teams, with MacInnis in Kitchener and Turgeon in Portland. And both head into the draft this summer with a lot of upside after facing adversity in their young careers.
For MacInnis, the rookie center came onto a Rangers team in rebuild mode, which is uncommon for the usually potent squad. The St. Louis native showed great flashes in his freshman season, but with just 183 pounds on a nearly 6-foot-4 frame, he naturally has work to do in the weight room.
“Getting better,” said one NHL scout. “He’s tall and he’s nowhere near filled out yet. Supports the play and does a lot of things well, but lacks the strength to do what he wants right now.”
Thankfully, the youngster wasn’t thrown into the fire with Kitchener: He had plenty of room to work on his game and little pressure thanks to the rebuild going on around him.
“I got a lot of playing time this year,” MacInnis said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, so it wasn’t a great year, but next year will be and it’ll be fun. I want to be more of a leader on the team. Show the new guys that it’s a game, so you have fun, but it’s competitive.”
While MacInnis had an early end to his campaign, Turgeon went all the way to the end in the Western League. His Portland Winterhawks once again made it to the final in the playoffs, only to fall to Edmonton in seven games. And though the sophomore’s stats weren’t outstanding – he finished 11th on the team with 31 points in 65 games – you have to remember just how deep this Hawks team was.
“He struggled when he came in at 16 for time and confidence,” said Portland coach-GM Mike Johnston. “But he was our most improved player. As an overall player, he played against top lines, he killed all penalties for us and he’s got a big upside. He will have good numbers.”
Finding himself on a team featuring NHL picks such as Derrick Pouliot, Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic took time, but the kid believes he turned a corner.
“My confidence was a big thing,” Turgeon said. “In the second half of the season, I felt like I really changed my game and found my role.”
Priding himself on his two-way game, Turgeon is happy to contribute at both ends of the rink. That bodes well for his future, since many of the NHL’s top stars of today fit into that 200-foot mould. Thanks to his size, MacInnis will likely be drafted first out of the pairing, anywhere from the end of the first round to somewhere in the second. Turgeon probably slides in between the second and third round, though at 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, he’s no shrimp himself. And he will admit to having some similarities to his dad.
“He was a big body, too,” Turgeon said. “He loved to protect the puck down low and that’s what I like to do in the offensive zone – really use my body to my advantage and drive the puck to the net.”
The talent is there for both and now it’s just a matter of developing. And a few years from now, we can watch them in the NHL, making names for themselves.