When one gives the Kelowna Rockets roster a thorough glance, it is easy to notice a few of the Western Hockey League’s elite players.
Dillon Dube: Calgary Flames second round pick in 2016. Cal Foote: Tampa Bay Lightning first round pick in 2017. Kole Lind: Vancouver Canucks second round pick in 2017.
Beyond this elite trio, a competent supporting cast is getting the job done in Kelowna this season. Through 46 games so far, the Rockets are atop the B.C. Division and Western Conference standings.
Indeed, it has been a team effort, yet a number of players are beginning to make a name for themselves.
Enter Kyle Topping, the only Rockets forward to appear in all 46 games so far this season. The well-spoken 18-year-old from Salt Spring Island has become an important contributor in Kelowna this season – his NHL Draft year.
Through the aforementioned 46 games, Topping has chipped in offensively at better than a point-per-game clip with 17 goals and 30 assists and a plus-13 rating.
His offensive skill set would certainly not appear to be an aberration, as the 5’11, 185-pounder put up enormous numbers during his second year of bantam hockey with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Strangely, despite over 200 points in 62 games, WHL teams overlooked Topping until the Rockets called his name in the 11th round, 220th overall, at the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
DUBNetwork spoke with Topping at Prospera Place in Kelowna last week prior to a Rockets afternoon skate.
Kyle Topping Interview: Part One
Following a season in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, where he played in 53 games, Topping cracked the roster in Kelowna and played an important depth role on a team that would eventually lose in the Western Conference final series to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
During that rookie campaign, Topping started slowly, going scoreless in his first 11 games, before counting a hat-trick in Seattle against the Thunderbirds.
Over the past couple of years, the faithful at Prospera Place in Kelowna were treated to two Topping’s on three occasions when the Tri City Americans came to town.
Jordan Topping, selected in the eighth round, 175th overall at the 2012 WHL Draft, is now 20 and has appeared in over 220 WHL games over four full seasons with the Americans.
This season, the Topping’s are the highest scoring brother act in the WHL – and it’s a close race between the two for bragging rights. Through Jan. 22, Jordan has scored 26 goals and added 26 assists in 46 games, good for a five-point cushion on Kyle.
Kyle Topping Interview: Part Two
Meanwhile, Kyle continues to flourish with the Rockets this season, his draft year. A late birthday, November 18, 1999, Topping will have well over 100 WHL games under his belt by the time NHL teams come calling in June at the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, TX.
Topping appeared as a “C” skater back in November when Central Scouting issued its “Players To Watch” ranking. Just this week, in its annual Mid-Season ranking, Central Scouting has pegged Topping as an early third round selection, ranked 64th overall among North American skaters and seventh among WHL players.
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