Monday, April 07, 2008

Kyle Turris

Kyle Turris signed with the Phoenix Coyotes and played in their final three games. He had one assist in those three games, but was also a -5. Phoenix's season is over, so Turris is returning to Madison to finish up this semester's classes.

When he signed, there were a lot of questions about whether or not Kyle Turris was ready for the NHL. My personal opinion is that Turris was ready for the NHL. Just looking at pure talent, he was probably the best player I saw all year. I'd even put him ahead of Blake Wheeler and T.J. Oshie in terms of NHL potential. That said, I could maybe see where some Wisconsin fans are coming from when they say he probably isn't ready. One thing Turris seemed to struggle with this year was his consistency. He only scored 2 goals in his last 18 games, and there were some nights that he didn't stand out at all.

But just because a player hasn't reached his peak yet doesn't mean he isn't ready to play in the NHL. Turris was only an 18-year-old kid this year. It should have been expected that he'd have some bouts of inconsistency, but as he starts to mature, he's going to have way more great games than poor games. I think Phoenix's thinking was that if you take a player with that much talent, and get him playing with veteran NHLers, and getting NHL coaching, the rest will take care of itself.

I also think it was good for college hockey that Turris didn't dominate in college hockey. Was Kyle Turris all that different, in terms of pure talent, from Paul Kariya? Both were kids from Vancouver that were top five draft picks going to pretty strong programs. Kariya was absolutely dominant scoring 100 points in 34 games as a freshman and winning the Hobey Baker. Obviously Turris is playing in a much different era, so he wasn't going to score 100 points, but he didn't even crack the top 50 in terms of scoring. I think that says something about how much the level of competition in college hockey has increased over the past 15 years. If Turris has been playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL this year, he would have dominated the league. At Wisconsin, he was a very good player, but was constantly going up against competition that was just as good, if not better than him.

Finally, Turris' signing proves a lot of the reservations I had about Wisconsin's recruiting class last season, when everyone was saying they were the hands down best recruiting class in the country. There's no doubt that they had a fine collection of talent, but the timing didn't seem to mesh well together. Most of Wisconsin's freshmen were good, but still have a ways to go before they are playing their best hockey. Players like Brendan Smith and Cody Goloubef were decent, but also seemed to have some struggles this year. Even forwards like Pat Johnson and Podge Turnbull were good, but weren't quite ready to make serious contributions this year. The problem is, by the time those players develop and become excellent college players, Turris will be playing in Phoenix. Turris helped make a down year for Wisconsin a little more respectable, but I don't think he was the asset people assumed he would be.

This brings up an interesting recruiting issue. A lot of people ask if teams will change their recruiting strategies to deal with players that will leave after just one year. I doubt you'll ever see too many teams passing over players like Kyle Turris or Erik Johnson. But the biggest issue is that teams have to recruit players like that so early that it's impossible to tell who will be a "one year player".

For example, Kyle Turris committed to Wisconsin in February 2005. I think the highest praise I had heard for him was "a potential late first round draft pick". He didn't become a potential top five pick until late in 2006. The same was true for Erik Johnson, who didn't really jump draft boards until his draft year, well after he committed to Minnesota. Similarly, some players like Tristin Llewellyn, Nick Petrecki or Jimmy Hayes that are considered top five picks early on, can slide lower in the draft, and end up being in college longer than expected.

So I don't know that there is much college teams can do to protect themselves from things like that. I don't know that they should try either. I think it's fantastic to see future great players pass through the college ranks, even if it's only for a year or two.


Anonymous said...

Not being U of M or a Wisc. fan, and seeing Turris play 6 times in the last year, he(Turris) is a better player than Wheeler. There is a reason Wheeler is still playing college hockey, and its not because he's getting a free education either.
Wheeler is a average college player on a very average team this year. Wheeler could be a great NHL player, but I haven't seen any signs of that YET.

Gandalf The Red said...

You make some good points about KT. Like I posted in the new Wiscosnin blog, he lacked in a few areas (size, consistency, carrying the team being a star player, and playing against older players) and that was why I thought he should have returned for another season.

He definately has NHL talent, and if he is on a line next year w/ Peter Mueller and Doan, he shouldn't have as many troubles adjusting. Beyond consistency, he needs to become a better individual player when he is on the ice w/ 4 other teammates. He lacked that at Wisconsin, he needed to raise his game some nights when the team needed him and he rarely did. Superstars raise their individual game when the need arises to carry the team.

He'll get there though, and I wish him the best. I'll be watching many Coyotes game next year.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin and to some extent Turris problems were not Turris. The real problem in Madison is that there were a handful of Juniors and Seniors that were expected to be much more impactful at the college level that simply have not performed at a level expected. When guys like Ford, Gorowsky, and Bearson score a total of 6 goals between them, it will be a struggle. Had those 3 or a few other upperclassmen assumed some of the load, there would not have been the reliance on the frosh and soph classes that were in fact pretty darn good.

On Turris specifically, he could have been a contributing player this year in the NHL and certainly will be next season. The question is when will he be a star player which he is probably another season or two of getting stronger away from. There is no reason that he can not put up numbers ala Kane, Toews, or Gagner and be a 20 goal 60-70 point guy that helps quite a bit on shootouts (which in the new NHL is pretty important).

Gandalf The Red said...

Why do people keep thinking Bearson is a junior? He was a sophomore.

Yes very lacking on upperclassmen, the huge sophomore class that will be juniors will be critical next season to lead the team along w/ Street and Connelly.

Anonymous said...

Being a former CHL scout and looking at this blog every once in a while, I just want to say that the CHL would have been a different route for him. It is not necessarily better as I think that both have their benefits and deficiencies, and that each player should be treated differently. However, in teh case of Turris I think that he should have gone to the WHL after being drafted. He is a special talent and if he wants his stats to really stick out, a higher scoring enviroment, such as the WHl would have been more beneficial for him. Now I think he needs another year at the NCAA level as he is listless at times and could become a better overall player, but you are correct that Kyle had the most NHL superstar potential of anyone in college hockey. Now if he does not become a superstar i think he will become a bust. WHeeler has the chacne to be a leader and a great team player on a 2nd or 3rd line if he doesn't pan out. So thats my opinon

Anonymous said...

Probably because he played 2 full years of USHL and should have been ready to contribute from day one. Or maybe it just seem like it must be 3 years of nothing out of Bearson

Anonymous said...

If all you are worried about is your stats sticking out, stay in the BCHL...what does that really have to do with anything?

Anonymous said...

bearson is a sophmore at UW. He has never been given a chance, one game is hardly an opportunity and that he has never seen more than fourth line icetime. what Uw has done to bearson after recruiting him from other programs is a crime. then for anyone to talk about his not contributing on the score sheet at wisconisn is a joke. bearson was a scorer and winner everywhere he played prior to uw. my son played against him in the mwehl and ushl and he was a player. any other program would have had him in the lineup and no one would be talking about him as someone who doesn't contribute. wisconsin has coaching issues, when a coach can't take talent, play it and be successful without pushing players out there are big time issues at the top. Turris is a big example of a talented player that Eaves couldn't handle or use to win.

Anonymous said...

think bearson is a victim of eaves' one year of success and that he decided he can get first or second rounders for the $$$ he gave bearson. watched bearson for years at select camps and at the ushl and he can play. watched him at 17s and oseiki was all over him pulling him out of locker room to make sure he knew wisco. wanted him. was the year with signs up at cloud begging kessel to follow stoa to mntc.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny that everytime Zach Bearson's name pops up that the same people rush to say the same thing over and over and over about him and at the same time take the chance to bash the coach.

Since both sound like you know so much about young Zach, why not clue us in as to exactly why he didn't play more than one game this season? Oh I forgot, Eaves is just a hack of a coach and doesn't know anything. There has to be a reason why Bearson never sees the ice, and if the only reason you can trump up is that Eaves doesn't know how to use talent, then give your fingers a rest and stop posting about Bearson's USHL greatness.

Matt Ford was a star in the USHL too, but he never was a scorer at Wisconsin, and it certainly wasn't because he wasn't out there all the time. Just because a kid was "great" at a lower level doesn't mean that he is doing enough to merit ice time now. The WCHA is a step up from the USHL, players need to continue to improve, not hope that old stat sheets will carry them.

I wish Zach would get more ice time, but until we know exactly what is going on at practice and behind the scenes, throwing Eaves under the bus because your nephew doesn't see the ice is a bunch of BS.

Anonymous said...

Turris had 11 goals at UW under Eaves. Does that mean he is no longer a scorer or is there something about Eaves' system? To throw Ford under the bus for not scoring when he played the system he was demanded to play is wrong. So is Turris no longer a finisher?