Top 25 under 25, no. 2: Kyle Turris
Kyle Turris is this high on our list for one reason:
The kid can flat out play.
Turris came to the Senators in a trade in December from the Coyotes under some interesting circumstances. After being the best Coyote on the ice in the team's playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings the spring before, Turris was facing the summer without a contract. Playing in Dave Tippett's system in Phoenix, Turris had learned to become a better two-way player. However, Tippett is a coach who notoriously relies on veteran players to get the job done, and Turris didn't know if the Coyotes were the best fit for him at that time. So he requested a change of scenery, and wouldn't sign a new contract in Phoenix.
Unfortunately for him, some in the media saw this as just another unproven, young kid who was holding out for more money. Thankfully for him, and the for the Senators, Bryan Murray did not see it that way. He saw a young player with tremendous skill who was being under-utilized in Phoenix. He swung a trade that sent fan favourite prospect David Rundblad and a second round pick to the Coyotes for Turris, and from there Turris proceeded to play quite well for the Senators. How good he CAN be remains to be seen.
Turris' path to the NHL was not the traditional one that you normally see with a top prospect. As a 16 year old, he joined the BCHL's Burnaby Express and had quite the rookie season putting up 72 points in 57 regular season games and another 23 points in the 20 playoff games leading to Burnaby's trip to the RBC Royal Bank cup final. He would play one more season with the Express and it was a doozy. He put up 66 goals and 55 assists in just 53 games. No, don't adjust your monitors. Thats exactly what he did.
Due to his insane performance, he was touted as the top North American skater headed into the 2007 draft. He ultimately would be picked 3rd overall by Phoenix, and would attend Wisconsin to play for the Badgers the year after he was drafted. He would put up solid numbers (35 points in 36 games) leading the team in scoring. He also played for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship where he won gold and led the team in scoring.
From there, his career got a little up and down, so bear with me. He signed with the Coyotes after his freshman season with the Badgers and would leave to go play for Wayne Gretzky. He would play almost entire year for the Yotes and would put up 20 points in 63 games for Phoenix and 8 points in 7 games for the AHL Rampage. The next season he found himself in the American league for the entire year, putting up a very strong numbers (63 points in 76 games).
His roller-coaster did not end there. He would play one more season with the Yotes, 65 games with 25 points and 2 AHL games for good measure.
Turris had a strong first season with the Senators putting up career-highs in goals assists and points despite playing only half the season and missing training camp. For the time being and for the foreseeable future, he represents the Senators best option for a second line centre. He has a devastating release on his shot (see game 4 overtime winner vs Rangers) and is an excellent skater. He can provide offensive support for Jason Spezza and due to his days in the Coyotes system, can provide strong two-way play as well.
I predict Turris will have a coming out party next season. I think a full summer of hard training, a good camp and the right line mates, he is poised to put up some serious numbers. He gives the Senators a great option for years to come, he was the youngest full-time forward on the team this season, and he is only just scratching the surface of his potential.