If Kelowna Rockets forward Kyle Topping heard one thing more than anything else to start his WHL career three seasons ago, it was this: “It goes by fast.”
Turns out, his big brother did know a thing or two.
Fast forward three years and the 19-year-old finds himself telling younger players the same thing as he heads into his final season with the Rockets.
The Salt Spring Island native has come a long way from when the Rockets drafted him. He was the seventh to last pick of the 2014 WHL bantam draft; Kelowna selected him 226th overall in the 11th round. Rockets assistant GM Lorne Frey said Topping had shown promise ahead of the draft.
“While we were scouting him we were thinking that he brought an upside and could score,” said Frey. “He had a good year following the draft and the next season he cracked our lineup. We’ve been very happy with his development. He continues to get better and better every year.”
Having an older brother in the WHL helped Topping mature. Jordan played four seasons with the Tri-City Americans, wearing an “A” for the final three campaigns.
“Having my brother play a couple of seasons before me, I was pretty familiar with the league and what it was about,” Topping said.
The younger Topping has suited up in 193 games with the Rockets over the last three seasons. During that time, he has scored 163 points (59 goals, 104 assists) and has added 163 penalty minutes and a plus-35 rating.
The dependable centreman led Kelowna in scoring last season with 69 points.
He’s now the “older brother” for younger players entering the Rockets system. He tries to provide them with the guidance that he was fortunate to have received.
“I love being the older brother, making guys feel comfortable and showing them what to do and when to do it,” he said.
“It means a lot when I hear that I’ve helped them.”
Everyone it seems wants to talk to him about being a 20-year-old player and heading into his final season, but Topping wants to focus on this season.
“Now that I’m going into that final season, it’s kind of crazy. I was always told it would fly by, but I didn't think it would go by this fast. Having the chance to play in a Memorial Cup will be a pretty great way to end my junior career,” he said.
“Everyone wants to talk to me about how it’s the final year, but I’m just excited to get out there and play. "
Before that, he will head south this week with Leif Mattson; the Carolina Hurricanes invited them to play for at the NHL Prospects Showcase in Nashville from Sept. 7-10.
Carolina will play its first game of the showcase against the Washington Capitals on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT.
There is a chance that the duo will face teammate Nolan Foote and his brother, former Rocket Cal Foote, when the Hurricanes take on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s prospects on Sunday at 2 p.m. PT.
The team will complete the event with an 11 a.m. PT showdown against the host Predators on Sept. 10.
All six of the showcase's games will be broadcast live on NashvillePredators.com.