Welcome to WingsNation’s 2019 countdown of the top prospects in the Detroit Red Wings farm system! Our writers voted on the top 25 prospects in the system to come up with a consensus site wide list, and over the course of the 6 weeks or so, we will be counting down our picks for the top prospects that Wings fans can look forward to. Today we start with #25 on the list and we plan to release 4 profiles a week all the way up to training camp. With that in mind, let’s dive right in to prospect #25: Dominic Turgeon.
Drafted: 2014, round 3, #63 overall
Weight: 201 lbs
Birthday: February 25, 1996 (age 23)
Latest team: Grand Rapids Griffins
Turgeon was drafted in 2014 after two years in the WHL in which he had yet to truly emerge as a major player for Portland, which made the selection a bit surprising as some rankings had him quite a bit lower on their projected draft boards. In the first year after being drafted, Turgeon upped his scoring to 43 points in 67 games, though he scored only a disappointing 9 points in 17 playoff games. While Turgeon has never been known as a guy who was an offensive producer, he truly didn’t stand out until his final year in the WHL, 2015-16. That season his scoring jumped to 70 points in 72 games and there started to be quite a bit more chatter around Turgeon as a prospect than there had been previously.
The Red Wings then signed him to a 3 year deal to play in Grand Rapids, where he has been through the life of that contract. His first year in GR he posted 18 points in 71 games, and then 2 points over 19 as a part of the Griffins’ run to the Calder Cup Championship. In 2017-18, he took a step forward offensively, with 32 points in 69 games, and he even got a chance to play for the Wings, appearing in 5 games and scoring 0 points. This put Turgeon in a potential position to make the team last fall, though he was beaten out by fellow 2014 Draft prospect Christoffer Ehn, condemning Turgeon to one more year in GR. Unfortunately, his numbers regressed in 2018-19, with 20 points in 71 games being very similar to his rookie year in the AHL and calling into question his long-term chance of making Detroit. He did get another shot for the Wings late in the season, playing 4 games and again scoring 0 points.
Turgeon’s prospect profile is based around one thing: defense. Hockey’s Future referred to him back in the WHL as a guy who was capable of shutting down the other team’s top line and killing penalties thanks to his quite high hockey IQ. That has continued into Grand Rapids where he has played on the top penalty kill unit and he made a splash in Detroit when he blocked a shot on his first ever NHL shift, and totaled 8 blocked shots in 5 games during his short first stint with the Red Wings. In particular, when he was called up to Detroit that first time, he was called up specifically because the Wings were short on penalty killers (Helm and Abdelkader were hurt) and Blashill wanted a gritty defensive player. Turgeon is also a great hustle player with a high compete level and has received high praise from his Grand Rapids coaches.
If you want to see his offensive capabilities, I present to you a video compilation of all of his goals in Grand Rapids in 2017-18:
As you may notice, Turgeon has some skill, particularly a knack for picking the top corners with his wrist shot and okay hands around the net. But the reality is that he’s not going to be a high production offensive player, as nearly all of the goals in that reel came like Arby’s: nice and greasy. He’s a 10/10 on the grit scale and that translates to his offensive abilities as well, scoring most of his goals in front of the net while banging around with the defenders. It should be noted that Turgeon is a strong player in the faceoff dot as well, which can help to mitigate what he lacks in skating.
Why he’s 25th on the list/future projection
I personally have Turgeon a tiny bit higher on my own personal list, mostly because I think there may be room for him in the NHL, but it all depends on how he performs this upcoming season. Turgeon, it should be noted, is technically unsigned at this current moment, and there is a chance that this gets rendered completely moot if the team chooses not to bring him back to GR, but I bet that they will. His offensive regression this year is tough to see in a prospect like him, however again, he will not be making the NHL because of his offense. His shot in the NHL completely rests on whether he can be a plus defensive player or not, all other offense be damned. While Yzerman likes to roll 4 scoring lines, defensive centers are still valuable, and we’ve seen how Jeff Blashill has an affinity for them in particular (see: Glendening, Luke).
That said, the biggest obstacle to Turgeon being an NHL guy may not be himself. It is probably Christoffer Ehn. The Wings likely only have room for one defense first young center and Ehn making the team over Turgeon and then playing 60 NHL games was not great news for Turgeon. If he can’t leap over Ehn, he will likely never get there as an NHL player. But if he conjures something that allows him to up his playing level, that could secure him a spot in the big leagues, and given his youth and inexpensiveness, he would probably stick long term. But again, that could be said about Ehn, also, he’s just not a prospect anymore by virtue of playing >50 games so we can’t write about him. As for this season, he will almost certainly play in GR again, getting a small taste of the NHL when injuries pop up.
Best case scenario: Turgeon becomes a #4C in the NHL
Worst case scenario: Turgeon becomes a permanent AHL player