MOLINE, IL – A local Quad Cities product could very well be drafted in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft if he continues in the same manner he’s played so far; and his last name is already familiar to Quad City Mallards fans. The 15-year-old son of Kerry Toporowski, Luke, has earned high praise from one of the best scouts and coaches in NHL history, Scotty Bowman.
In a recent article by the Bleacher Report, Mr. Bowman said, “He’s one of the best prospects I’ve ever seen. He’s got a terrific stride, skates like (Sidney) Crosby, hard to knock off his feet, just cutting around the defense and accelerating.”
Luke has been playing for the Chicago Mission, a Bantam Major Triple-A team of the High Performance Hockey League, located in the big city. But this May, he was drafted by the Spokane Chiefs eighth overall, a great accomplishment for an American. The last time an American-born player was drafted in the first round of the bantam draft was 2009. He will play one more year for the Chicago Mission before moving to Spokane, WA for the next two or more years. Luke won’t be moving to the West Coast all by his lonesome, though; his older brother Jake is a second-year blue line defender for the Chiefs.
Kerry Toporowski was famous for his fights; his son Luke, is renowned for a different reason, but, Luke isn’t adverse to the idea of ever following in his father’s footsteps a little. “Fighting’s not much a part of the game anymore. I’d probably do a little more of it if it was,” he told Bleacher Report.
Kerry earned over 1300 PIM with the Mallards alone over a span of six seasons, having suited up for just 236 games with the Quad Cities-based team. In 2000-2001, he sat in the sin bin for 413 minutes on his way to winning the Colonial Cup. That would be his second Cup, and his fourth of what would be his five Finals appearances. The old Mallards were famous for their Drive for Five, five years in a row making it to the Finals from 1997-2001. They lost to the Fort Wayne Komets in 2003, the last time the Flock has advanced to a league championship series.
Last season, Luke scored 22 goals and 11 assists for a total of 33 points in 20 games for the Chicago-suburb based team. With those stats, he became the league’s top scorer. Luke’s coach, Gino Cavallini, says Luke could be a great player very soon. “I would say, the way he’s tracking, he’s going to be one of the top prospects in the country.”
Jake wasn’t the first Toporowski to play for the Spokane Chiefs, though. Kerry also suited up for the Washington team from 1989-1991. It could almost be considered a family tradition for the Toporowski’s to play for the Chiefs.
Luke would consider himself a power forward, akin to Jamie Benn. He took Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” to heart, saying, “I really like to shoot as much as I can.”
Will we soon see a first round draft pick with a home town of Bettendorf, Iowa? That’s up to Luke to decide. I’d say we need to keep an eye on him over the next few years. Will he be the next Connor McDavid, who was heralded as the next Sidney Crosby (who was heralded as the next Wayne Gretzky?)
I don’t know; if I could see the future, I’d be in horse racing. But I do know one thing; the Quad Cities are all rooting for Luke.
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