A trio of Kelowna Rockets are on the radar for the NHL Entry Draft this weekend at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Forwards Kyle Topping and Leif Mattson, along with defenceman Libor Zabransky, were all cited in NHL Central Scouting ranking of North American skaters in mid-April.
Ahead of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft Topping, Zabransky, and Mattson were listed on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American skaters in mid-April. The Draft starts tomorrow. Details: https://t.co/T8EgFNNDbb #WHLRockets #Topper #Libor #Leif #NHLDraft 🚀🐉🍕🇨🇿🍃 pic.twitter.com/3g5qUlYNAX
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) June 21, 2018
Here’s a look at the three Rockets players:
Topping, 18, concluded his second full campaign with the Rockets this season. Topping is ranked 59th on the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American skaters.
Heading into the NHL Entry Draft this weekend, Topping says he’s eager to get it started.
“I have an open mindset, ” Topping said. “You never know what can happen on draft day. It’s definitely super exciting and I can’t wait for the weekend. Most likely I’m just going to spend the day with my family and see what happens,” said Topping. “I’m already getting excited and anxious for next season in Kelowna to start. I think were going to have a really strong group of talented and great guys that will do what ever it takes to win. As for myself I am wanting to come into my 3rd year and play a leadership role for our group, as well as take another step forward and be a key player for our team.”
In 125 regular season WHL games, the Salt Spring Island native has notched 36 goals while adding 58 assists for 94 points. He scored 22 goals this season placing him fifth on the Rockets in goal scoring. Topping finished the season with 65 points putting him fifth in points on the Rockets roster.
The speedy forward has also added two goals and four assists for six points in 19 playoff games in his WHL career thus far, including two goals and three assists for five points in four post season games in the 2018 WHL Playoffs.
Topping was selected by Kelowna in the 11th round, 226th overall in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
Zabransky, 18, completed his WHL rookie campaign this season with Kelowna. The import defenceman is ranked 115th on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. He was selected 51st overall by the Rockets in the 2017 CHL Import Draft from the Czech Republic. In his first year with Kelowna, the Brno, Czech Republic native was one of only two Rockets players on the roster this season to play all 72 regular season games.
The smooth-skating defenceman scored two goals and 17 assists for 19 points in his first season. In 2016-2017 Zabransky played 34 games for HC Kometa Brno U20 scoring nine goals and adding 26 assists for 35 points. He also skated in 15 games for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga, notching an assist.
Zabransky is anxious to get this weekend and the NHL Entry Draft started.
“Im super excited and also nervous because you never know what the NHL teams want,” said Zabransky. “I will be with my family and trying to enjoy the day.”
Since the postseason ended, Zabransky has been in Brno, Czech Republic training with a professional team in hopes on expanding his role in Kelowna next season.
“I’m training with a Pro team in Brno, so it’s good for me to be able to workout with the older guys. Next season it will be my second year in Kelowna. A lot of defencemen are leaving so I hope my role will be bigger,” Zabransky said. “Also I know my billets, coaches, the city, and my teammates so I think it will be more fun for me and I can’t wait to be back.”
Mattson, 18, finished his second season with the Rockets this year. The Stonewall, MB native is ranked 157th among North American skaters on the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. In 63 games this season Mattson scored 25 goals, fourth most on the Rockets roster behind only Carsen Twarynski(45), Kole Lind(39), and Dillon Dube(38). His 60 points placed him sixth in team scoring at the end of the regular season. Mattson was originally selected in the eighth round, 163rd overall, by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
The Rockets acquired Mattson’s right in October of 2016 from the Wheat Kings. In his rookie campaign with Kelowna he scored nine goals and added five assists for 14 points in 46 games. The 6-foot, 200-pound forward has played in 109 regular season games for Kelowna, scoring 34 goals and 40 assists for 74 points. The 1999-born Rockets forward is trying not to over think the NHL Entry Draft.
“Going into the draft this weekend I would be extremely grateful to be selected. However, if I’m not, it’s not the end of the world. My main focus is improving my game this summer in order to ensure I have a very strong year in Kelowna this coming season,” said Mattson. “I’m super excited to get back to Kelowna this August because my expectations for myself and the rest of the team are extremely high. I believe we have a strong core group of guys coming back that will allow us to contend again this year, and have a deep playoff run.”
The first round of the NHL draft goes Friday night in Dallas, with the second and all following rounds to be held on Sunday.
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