Wed Jun 11 11:34am EDT
Dominic Turgeon's challenge is 180 degrees removed from what his famous father faced at the same stage of his hockey life.
Well before the Portland Winterhawks centre entered this life, his dad, Pierre Turgeon, was a first overall pick in 1987 who went on to score more than 1,300 points across 19 NHL seasons. In Portland this past season, Dominic Turgeon was charged with playing on a checking line and chipping in complementary scoring on a loaded veteran team.
"He was a highly, highly offensive guy," says Turgeon, who is NHL Central Scouting Service's No. 97-ranked skater. "He learned defence as the years went on. I feel like I'm the opposite right now. I started this year with a big defensive role but I know that I have that offensive ability and that it will come.
"I feel like I'm a two-way forward," adds Turgeon, who had 10 goals and 31 points across 65 games for Portland. "I feel I can protect the puck well in the offensive zone, drive the net and I'm strong defensively."
The Cherry Hills, Colo., native, who can vividly remember visiting his father in NHL team dressing rooms after games "no matter how late it was," has a decently high ceiling. The 18-year-old Turgeon has good size at 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds; he has potential to develop into a two-way centre if he can bring his bulk to bear on the action more frequently.
Save for a select few, underage players in Portland tend to be brought along gradually under coach-GM Mike Johnston. This season, Columbus Blue Jackets late third-round pick Oliver Bjorkstand blossomed into a 50-goal, 109-point scorer at age 18. While literally replicating that is far-fetched, Turgeon is banking on making a great leap forward in 2014-15.
"I'm going to get a lot more ice time, a lot more opportunity with some guys leaving. It's going to be a big year. The way they develop kids, they help us so much. The things they do are unbelievable.
"The big thing for me will be my first few strides — my quickness," Turgeon adds. "Being faster and having a quicker release on my shot."
At some point along the way, the Portland pivot might squeeze in some ice time with dear old dad, who retired as a player in 2007.
"I wouldn't mind it," Dominic Turgeon says. "It's been a while since he's been on the ice so I might enjoy that."
1. What makes Mike Johnston such an effective communicator?
"If you need help with anything, he's always open. He always explains things to you and makes sure you understand."
2. Is it easier or harder to climb the hockey ladder when you play the same position as your father?
"I guess it can help a little bit. He played centre his whole life. He knows the position and it's obviously good to have his input."
3. Which teammates have been vital in helping you get established with the Winterhawks?
4. Who has been the most challenging defenceman that you have faced in the WHL?
"A big one for me was [New York Islanders prospect] Griffin Reinhart when we faced Edmonton. He's so big and good with the puck in his own zone. Patient and can make the right decisions in very tight areas."
5. Where is your favourite road rink?
"I always loved playing in Seattle [ShoWare Center]. We're rivals and it's always heated when we play them. It just feels like there's a lot of energy in the building and I really enjoy that."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.