Luke Toporowski was a player that stood out from a draft analysis angle for the first part of the season but has seen his stock drop as the year went along. In my opinion, he was passed by his teammate, Adam Beckman, as the best draft eligible forward on the Chiefs come playoff time.
But Toporowski is a player that has some interesting offensive attributes to his game that, if he can be a little more engaged, may allow him to thrive.
He was a noticeable player for the U.S. team during the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament, but just couldn’t continue that throughout the year. We’ll take a look at his game and point out some reasons for optimism and some reasons to be concerned.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / April 12, 2001
- Birthplace: Bettendorf, IA, USA
- Frame: 5-foot-10 / 179 lbs
- Position: Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
If there is one thing that Luke Toporowski can do well, it’s shoot. He has a fantastic shot that combines a quick and deceptive release with some serious velocity. If he is given the time and space to plant his stance and rip it, he will blow it by goaltenders. He does rely a bit too much on having the perfect, semi-static shooting position to get his best shot off, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that his shot, even in stride or off balance, is still above average for this draft class.
With last night's goal, Luke Toporowski joined Adam Beckman and Riley Woods as the first trio of Spokane Chiefs to each score six or more goals in a single @TheWHL postseason since 2011. #WHLPlayoffs #GoChiefsGo pic.twitter.com/2r4B2XGT4i
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) April 24, 2019
His skating is decent for his size without an elite aspect to it. Given his smaller stature, I’d like to see him have a little more breakaway speed but it isn’t much of a concern.
Toporowski displays some decent playmaking abilities but isn’t doesn’t have fantastically creative instincts. He can make a good pass to an open teammate but won’t create space for them before threading the puck over.
I view him as being more of a shooter and his offensive game generally trends towards that side of the ledger.
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) February 7, 2019
One added bonus to his game, despite being smaller, is that he is willing to mix it up in front to battle for the puck. This stands out as an area in which he is actively engaged. He doesn’t shy away from physical play when it comes at him, and generally stays involved once things get rough, but he doesn’t actively look for it.
There isn’t much to quibble about in terms of his defensive game – he plays well for a winger that looks to breakout with the puck when he has it.
The major concern is his engagement in the game and competing every single shift. When he isn’t engaged, he can appear to just float around. When he really gets into a game though, he displays all the attributes to think that he can be even more effective if he does push himself.
Toporowski is a player that I am really conflicted about. During viewings of his play, you can leave with a sense of him not really have accomplished anything at all. Then he flashes his shot or soft hands and you are screaming for more.
His production this season wasn’t anything spectacular and part of the reason why his draft stock started to fall. He took a step forward in the first part of the WHL playoffs, but I found him to be ineffective at times against the Vancouver Giants in the West final despite him putting up one goal and three assists in the series.
Looking at the totality of his season, his teammates generally performed better with him relative to without him in terms of on-ice goal share:
At the beginning of the WHL playoffs, Toporowski primarly played with Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Eli Zummack, but by the end of the west finals, he saw his role being taken over by Beckman.
He was in the middle of the pack in terms of estimated 5-on-5 points per hour (5v5 eP60) and goals-for percentage for the Chiefs, with a mid-season offensive slump doing the most damage to his rolling numbers.
When we look at his statistical profile, we see about a 13% chance of becoming NHL regulars
That number puts him just outside of the third round for players in this draft class. This number isn’t really surprising given that his production wasn’t that great.
Toporowski spent time on Spokane’s top line and did well in terms of scoring rates per hour. That was a likely a product of his quality of teammates getting a bump up, rather than him taking a tangible step forward.
Overall, I think that Toporowski has some interesting offensive skills that can make him appear like an intriguing mid round gamble. The problem is that I cannot think of a time where I walked away from a viewing and felt a sense of ‘wow’ from him. If anything, there was more frustration due to a lack of compete or engagement.
For me, that is a red flag on what he could become in the future. With that being said, Toporowski has a high likelihood of getting drafted, and if the team that picks him can get through to him and get him to step up his compete level and urgency, he does have the potential to pay off in the long run.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and WHL.ca.
Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
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