By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Providence Bruins forward Luke Toporowski has been one of the more exciting hockey players around the Boston Bruins organization this offseason, leading into the current 2022-23 regular season. The Iowa-born dual citizen of the United States and Canada signed a two-year AHL-Only contract in June of 2022 as an added depth forward to the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey League Boston Bruins.
After signing his AHL-Only deal, his first in-house development evaluation was during this past summer’s development camp annually held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. The 5′-11″ 184-pound left winger had a successful Canadian Junior career in the Western Hockey League, starting with the Spokane Chiefs and finishing with the Kamloops Blazers and producing 199 points in 245 CHL games.
Toporowski successfully showcased his skills in front of the NHL Bruins brass and media at the Warrior for the five-day duration of this past summer’s development camp. Luke was later invited to join the Bruins for rookie camp and the annual Prospects Challenge tournament held at the Harborcenter in Buffalo, New York. The undrafted 21-year-old continued to impress throughout the NHL Bruins training camp earning a spot on the roster in a preseason game.
Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney also gave Toporowski high praise when he said, “I really like the feisty competitiveness. He’s a player that has put himself on our radar in getting into main camp and playing with established players.” to the media members who were in attendance like Mark Divver who shared the Sweeney quote above on Twitter.
So far this season, in eight games of Toporowski’s rookie season, he’s been one of the better stories in this young 2022-23 Providence Bruins campaign. Luke is currently on a seven-game point streak and has only one contest this season thus far when he didn’t at least get a point. The game mentioned when the undrafted forward went scoreless was in the Providence 2022-23 regular season at the Amica Mutual Pavillion in a 3-1 Bruins home victory on October 14th. In these seven games during this AHL career-high point streak, Toporowski has 3-4-7 numbers with a possibility of extending this current point streak to eight games when the Providence Bruins play the Utica Comets tomorrow for a Wednesday night battle in the state of New York.
When looking at the AHL rookie leaders thus far in this 2022-23 regular season, Toporowski ranks seventh in the AHL in points after eight games, two behind Providence rookie leader Fabian Lysell. The former 2021 first-round selection Lysell sits in fourth place in the AHL with 2-7-9 numbers in six games so far this season. Toporowski currently sits in third in goal scoring (3), sixth in assists (4), and fourth in total points (9). Providence Bruins team leader in overall points is veteran forward Vinni Lettieri, who’s produced 5-4-9 numbers in eight games as a first-time player for the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Boston Bruins.
While the 21-year-old Toporowski is currently under an AHL-Only two-year contract, he’s certainly given the Boston Bruins brass something to think about for added depth to the NHL level. It’s not out of the question for a talented player like Luke to continue to work hard and earn a two-way deal getting that much closer to his NHL dreams. While I’m not going to pump his tires of being the next best thing at the highest level in the world, I can say that what’s been seen on video from his previous WHL career games and what he has to offer at the minor-pro level is something most NHL organization hold close by.
Toporowski plays that prototypical Boston Bruins style that provides quick offensive skills either from the feet or hands and that aggressive, in-your-face strength in the dirty areas. While a little undersized and raw at this particular time of Luke’s development, there are things he can work on as he continues to develop. Besides the speed and skill displayed on the ice, he’s also fully engaged when it comes to after-whistle scrums and is there for a teammate when he feels liberties were taken.
Luke is a determined individual that speaks highly of developing his love for the game at a young age where he grew up. He praises the “Quad Cities” of the Metropolitan Iowa-Illinois area with every accolade, where his father and family laid roots in the late 1990s. The AHL Providence two-year signing of the young Toporowski marked the first time a player was brought through the youth programs in the Quad Cities area to sign a professional contract. These quotes below can be seen in the tweet below or seen HERE. The several quotes below were taken from an article from the Quad City Times and the article published on June 17th, 2022, from author Bobby Metcalf with Twitter following details below.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a lot of hard work, not only from me but from my family also,” Toporowski said. “I’m just so grateful to share this opportunity with my family, and I know the hard work is starting even now.”
“I got a fire lit under my (butt),” Toporowski said. “I think I won’t lose that chip on my shoulder ever. I think that’s what drives me, I think that’s what makes me the player that I am; even on the ice, I play with a chip on my shoulder. I think, when I was 17, I got so much recognition that I was going to be drafted, and everybody thought I was going to be drafted, and then when I didn’t, I feel like I kind of fell off, and everybody forgot about me.”
“Now that I’m here, now that I’ve got that contract, I’m not going to stop now, and I’ll work even harder now to prove to everybody that this should have happened two or three years ago. I’m going to make the most of it and make the Quad-Cities proud and show the Quad-Cities they can believe in me.”
“I want to show kids they can chase their dream,” Toporowski said. “I want to be a role model for these kids that are playing in the Quad City Hockey Association now and give back and prove to everybody that we can make it out of the Quad-Cities, even though we have one ice surface. I’m just so honored to be the first one, and hopefully there’s more down the road.”
The Minor-Pro Hockey Ranks is a Familiar Place for the Toporowski Family
The aggressive side of his game might’ve come from his father’s teachings as a younger hockey player and being able to stick up for himself. Father Kerry, who was also a WHL Spokane Chiefs alumni, was a defenseman that made a career playing in the various minor-pro leagues from the early 1990s up to the early 2000s. Kerry made it as high as the AHL two times in his career with the Adirondack Red Wings and Portland Pirates and once in the ECHL with the Birmingham Bulls. The elder Toporowski was an enforcer on the ice and intimidating for any opponent.
While playing with the WHL Spokane Canadian Junior team, he posted 1-13-14 numbers with 384 penalty minutes in 65 games in his WHL rookie season. The following year with the Chiefs, he practically doubled his numbers to 11-16-27, along with 505 PIMs. Kerry spent most of his minor-pro career in the International Hockey League and United Hockey league. In the UHL, he finished his professional career with the Quad City Mallards after the 2003-04 season and missed the arrival of the UHL’s new expansion team, the Danbury Trashers, who recently became famous in the Netflix Documentary Series Untold Crime and Penalties program that was released in 2021.
Besides Luke and his father Kerry, Luke’s uncle Shayne Toporowski had a decent minor-pro career and later left North America to play overseas in England, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Germany, and Austria. After returning to North America, uncle Shayne played his final year of pro hockey when he served as player-coach for the Quad City Mallards in 2012-13. After his playing career, Shayne became an assistant coach at the College of the Holy Cross and later a bench boss for nearby Worcester State University for several seasons.
Uncle Brad played in the ECHL for a few seasons and is also a Spokane Chiefs alumni. Although he never made the pro level, brother Jake is a former Spokane Chiefs alumni and moved on to be an assistant coach in the Southern Professional Hockey League for two seasons with the Quad City Storm. Jake is now an assistant coach with the United States Hockey League Des Moines Buccaneers, where he also serves as the team’s Director of Hockey Operations.