Kyle Topping lands in the halfway spot of our 2018 NHL Draft rankings.
Hailing from Salt Spring Island, Topping played in the BCHL before heading to the Kelowna Rockets.
Known for his hockey sense and playmaking abilities, Topping burst out offensively this season with a 65 point campaign and then followed that up with five points in four playoff games.
Many rankings have him outside their Top 100 but there is some data that suggests that he worthy of a pick in those middle rounds.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.83/ November 18, 1999
- Birthplace: Salt Spring Island, BC, CAN
- Frame:5-foot-11/ 185 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Right
- Draft Year Team: Kelowna Rockets(WHL)
Topping was selected with the 226th overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam draft and is currently ranked as the 59th best player among North American skaters.
5v5 Pr INV%
Although he put 43 assists, Topping isn’t afraid to the shoot the puck with an average of 2.74 shots per game. His GF% and GFREL% stand out as his line was a driver of offence throughout the year and he rates well among SEAL and XLS%. His involvement percentage also shows that he was a large part of the Rockets offensive game.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Topping posted some encouraging scoring rates and WOWY with the Rockets this season. He and Kole Lind played together quite a bit and were dominant throughout the year. There have been suggestions that Topping was riding the Lind wave, but looking at his Teammates chart, we can see that he saw fairly even ice time among a few players and aside for Lind, outproduced them all.
The 5’11” centre saw consistent production throughout the entire season and saw a fairly stable role as a 2nd line player for the Rockets.
With Topping being ranked 59th among North American skaters, it suggests that he will be a mid-round pick and with an expected success rate of 23.6% among cohorts, he presents tremendous value. There are some visual flaws to his game that he will need to work out but the underlying draft data suggest that Topping is the type of CHL player to take a risk on in the middle rounds.
Kyle Topping is intriguing given that he has some obvious things that he needs to work on but has some impressive traits to his game.
First and foremost, Topping and Lind were dynamite when together with both of them having the ability to make the pass or take the shot. They played off each other very well and made things happen. When Topping wasn’t with the Canucks prospect, he good things occured on the ice but just not in such a dominant way.
The first flaw to his game is his skating.
He is able to get around the ice fine but it’s a choppy stride that lacks efficiency. If he can refine the technique, it will be adequate and then he can just use his hockey sense and puck skills to generate offence. Those are the things that standout about his game and what sets him apart from some of the other prospects available in this draft class.
The Salt Spring Island native is smart with the puck and the decisions he makes with them. He is aware of his teammates in the offensive zone and can thread a perfect pass to them when the opportunity arises. His puck distribution skills are very good as he gets a puck through traffic to his teammate or sets up the one-timer.
He has a good wrist shot that he is able to pivot and lean into when given a chance. He has a good pivoting ability on his feet that allow him to get a loose puck, roll, and then shoot.
The other thing that has stood out about his game this season is that he is no way dynamic and can disappear into the game a bit. He is making smart plays and making things happen but you are never blown away by him. Topping just compliments his teammate’s playstyles, makes things happen, gets a point or two and then goes home. This isn’t a bad thing per say, but merely might be why he is lower in the draft rankings than some of his peers.
Topping isn’t a player that I would be tripping myself over to select but there is quite a bit to like about his overall game. He is smart, has solid puck skills and can adapt his game to fit the style of his line. If he can improve his skating and consistency, then he is well worth the flyer when he is projected to be available.
There is some concern that his overall ceiling won’t be particularly high, which is a common theme among the WHL draft eligibles, with his ceiling likely topping out as a 3rd line centre who can help everywhere in the lineup.
TSN Bob McKenzie
TSN Craig Button
The Hockey News