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OFFENSE ARRIVES TO RAISE STOCK ON DEFENSIVELY-SOUND TURGEON

Photo: Sam Iannamico

By Pete Wallner, MLive.com

GRAND RAPIDS - Dominic Turgeon
knows the last name is coming up in conversation, sooner or later, and he's good with that.

But the Grand Rapids Griffins' second-year center is also keen on it happening later nowadays as he carves out his own niche in the hockey world.

The 21-year-old is the son of Pierre Turgeon, a 19-year NHL great with 515 career goals and the first overall pick by Buffalo in 1987. He amassed 1,327 points in 1,294 games with the Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

Dominic loves him, talks to him often and has no problem being the only son of a hockey great. There is another family member who was no slouch either in uncle Sylvain Turgeon. Pierre's older brother played 12 seasons in the NHL with 269 goals.

Meanwhile, Dominic is just trying to be the best Turgeon he can be.

"Growing up around my dad playing and the whole hockey scene my whole life, he's taught my everything I know to this date so I'm just thankful that I've had those kind of opportunities," he said of his father, now an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings.

Turgeon's making a name for himself this season so far. Always known for his defensive abilities, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Turgeon has seen a nice spike in his offensive production. Heading into the Griffins' home game Friday against Rockford, Turgeon has eight goals and 22 points (sixth on the team) in 35 games. That has already surpassed last year's rookie total of 6-12-18 in 71 games.

"Last year was about having a big defensive game, and I wanted to carry that into this year but definitely produce more offensively," Turgeon said. "I feel like I've played well so far and feel like I've earned trust from Nellie (coach Todd Nelson)."

Part of the increased production is Turgeon is getting more ice time. Last year, he worked mostly fourth line and penalty kill. This year, the PK is still a standard but he and longtime linemate Colin Campbell have played more on the second or third lines.

"Last year he was in and out of the lineup and eventually worked his way into being a regular guy and was a go-to guy in the playoffs," Nelson said. "Last year, him and Soupy had plays where they didn't convert. That's not the case this year. He's come miles from where he was at the start of last year."

Campbell said confidence makes all the difference.

"He's slowly built his game every day last year and come in more confident this season and you can see it; that matters on the ice," Campbell said.

Turgeon agreed, but he has also worked to improve his skating and, of course, his offensive skills. No longer does he just dump the puck into the offensive zone; he looks to make a play.

Now, he could see himself as more of a two-way center who could reach 20 goals. That's not his father's level, but the two have different skill sets.

"I want to be a strong two-way player," Turgeon said. "I want to be great in the faceoff circle, want to thrive on the PK, want to be good on my own end and matchup against those top lines."

The offense has been the missing piece since Turgeon was selected by Detroit in the third round (63rd overall) in the 2014 NHL draft. He did bag 36 goals and 70 points in 72 games in the WHL in 2015-16, his third and final season with the Portland Winterhawks.

"As I progress here, I'm feeling really comfortable and want to keep pushing in the right direction here," Turgeon said. "Who knows? Twenty goals is a lot of goals in this league, but I think I can do it and think I'm right there."