Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Luke Prokop.
The seventh overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, defenceman Luke Prokop had a breakout season in his second full WHL campaign. The big defenceman from Edmonton, Alberta plays down the road for the Calgary Hitmen and put up four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 53 games this year. After teammate Yegor Zamula was injured, Prokop inherited his top pair minutes and the assignment of playing against the other team’s top line. He thrived in the role and has moved up draft boards as a result.
In 2018-19, Prokop played 62 games for the Hitmen, putting up one goal and nine assists for ten points. He also added four assists in 11 WHL Playoff Games. He also played for Team Canada White at the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge. Prokop had one assist in five games. He also served as an alternate captain for the team.
Prokop played 14 games for the Hitmen in 2017-18, picking up two assists. He spent the season with Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep. In 28 games he scored four goals and 20 points. He also added one goal and eight points in five playoff games, leading the team to the CSSHL Championship.
Luke Prokop Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born May 6th, 2002 — Edmonton, Alberta
Height 6’4″ — Weight 219 lbs [193 cm/99 kg]
At 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, Prokop is one of the bigger defenders we have profiled in this draft class. He is a very good skater, especially for a big man. Prokop has above-average speed in both directions. He also has a quick first step and good acceleration. Prokop has very good edgework and lateral agility. This allows him to play a strong 200-foot game. Prokop’s turns are smooth and he can accelerate out of them. His pivots are also sharp. He transitions well from offence to defence and vice versa. Prokop is strong on his skates and can fight through checks. He wins battles along the boards and does a good job of clearing the front of the net.
Prokop has not put up a ton of points so far in his WHL career, but there is some untapped offensive potential. He has a hard slap shot from the point. He also does a good job of walking the line and opening up shooting lanes. Prokop keeps his shot low and on the net, allowing his teammates to get deflections and rebounds. He is also an effective passer, starting the play in the defensive zone and keeping it moving in the offensive end. He could work on his stickhandling and poise with the puck though. Prokop moves the puck quickly, but there are times he needs to slow down and look at what is available to him and make a more creative play rather than immediately getting the puck off his stick.
The bread and butter of Prokop’s game is his work in his own end of the ice. His strong skating allows him to maintain good gap control. He forces attackers to the outside of the zone and into bad angles to shoot the puck. His lateral agility makes him tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Prokop can use his size to lay a big hit if an attacker has his head down. However, he is disciplined. He does not take too many penalties and does not get himself out of position looking for that hit. Prokop is also able to battle with opponents in the corners and clears the front of the net well. He does a good job of defending against the cycle and keeping his man from taking the puck to the front of the net.
Prokop is strong positionally away from the puck as well. He uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes and intercept passes. His ability to poke check the puck away from defenders is also well developed. Prokop is willing to put his body on the line to block shots. He has enough speed to retrieve dump-ins and pick up loose pucks and move them up the ice, limiting the opponent’s time in the defensive end.
Projection and Comparison
Prokop projects as a defensive defender who could also provide a little offence if he can reach his potential. However, don’t expect him to be leading a power play or putting up huge numbers. His value will be in his own end of the rink. Prokop could stand to spend another two years in the WHL, where he can get the time and space to handle the puck and hopefully increase his skills and confidence in that area. If he is rushed too fast into a faster league, then that area will never develop. His game is reminiscent of Eric Brewer, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Luke Prokop that are available on youtube and twitter.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Luke Prokop Main Photo:
KELOWNA, BC – FEBRUARY 17: Luke Prokop #6 of the Calgary Hitmen skates against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 17, 2020, in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)