The NHL draft was a dream come true for one member of the Spokane Chiefs, but the weekend ended in disappointment for another.
Adam Beckman had his NHL dream come true when he went 75th overall to the Minnesota Wild in the third round, but Luke Toporowski – rated No. 100 among North American skaters – went undrafted. Toporowski was projected to go in the sixth or seventh round and met with NHL scouts throughout the 2018-19 season.
The Wild traded up to snag Beckman, who led the Chiefs with 32 goals last season as a rookie. Beckman also scored 12 points in 15 playoff games as he helped Spokane advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Beckman, who was in Vancouver for the draft, heard his name called right about where he was projected to go. NHL Central Scouting ranked Beckman No. 34 among North American Skaters, which gave him a third-round projection.
Beckman joins former Chief Jared Spurgeon with the Wild. Spurgeon, who won a Memorial Cup with the Chiefs in 2008, is entering his tenth season in Minnesota and has been a mainstay on the Wild blue line.
Beckman will waste no time basking in the glow of being selected. He’s expected to attend Minnesota’s development camp, which begins June 25 and runs through June 28.
Meanwhile, the omission of Toporowski among the 217 draft picks was a head scratcher.
In his second season with the Chiefs, Toporowski scored 49 points (21G, 28A) in 67 games. He added six goals and four assists in 14 playoff games and was counted on in important situations. Toporowski will be counted on again this upcoming season to provide offense and veteran leadership.
Toporowski could get an invite to a development camp this summer, as NHL teams will soon start inviting undrafted players to fill camp rosters.
Other Chiefs – like Eli Zummack – could also get invites to development camps in the coming days and weeks.
Both Beckman and Toporowksi will return to Spokane next season, but a major draft day trade impacted one player whose status is unclear.
Ty Smith, the New Jersey Devils’ first round pick at the 2018 draft, is entering his 19-year-old season and could be a full-time NHL player next season, if he makes the cut. But the Devils traded for veteran defenseman P.K. Subban at the draft, giving the team an experienced defenseman that could push a younger player like Smith down the depth chart.
If Smith doesn’t stick with the Devils, he would not be eligible to play for New Jersey’s minor league team and must be returned to Spokane.
Getting Smith back would be huge for the Chiefs, and there is a lot that can happen between now and October. Smith’s development is of huge interest for the Devils, and all parties will closely monitor whether he is with the NHL club or back in the Western Hockey League.
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