Luke Prokop just got another step closer to the NHL.
The out gay Nashville Predators prospect, who shined last season in his club’s successful run for the Western Hockey League championship, is on the Predators’ developmental camp roster. Camp runs from July 11 — July 15 and culminates with the Prospect Showcase Game.
Typically, NHL teams place their best young players under contract in Development Camp, giving them an opportunity to receive first-hand instruction from NHL coaches.
There’s little doubt Prokop is one of the most promising stars in Nashville’s system. The 20-year-old defenseman is listed as a “top prospect.”
Our Development Camp roster is here! https://t.co/KE8XXDPVBl— NashFil Predators (@PredsNHL) July 10, 2022
Prokop was outstanding last season in the WHL, the top junior hockey league in Western Canada. He was traded to his hometown Edmonton Oil Kings in October and enjoyed a banner campaign.
Prokop amassed career highs in goals (11), assists (24) and points (35). In the finals, his two goals and two assists were instrumental in the Oil Kings winning Game 2 of the series. Overall, he had four goals and 12 assists in the playoffs.
Much like baseball, hockey prospects can stay in the minor leagues for years as they develop. But Prokop’s presence in Development Camp is a big deal. It means the Predators view the third-round selection as a legitimate NHL hopeful.
Prokop’s coming out story is especially unique, because he publicly revealed his sexuality before his pro career even started. He came out last July, roughly three weeks after NFL lineman Carl Nassib.
Since then, Prokop has relished the role of being an LGBTQ advocate, speaking freely about how coming out improved his performance on the ice.
Grateful for the opportunity to work with sportsnet on this piece. Helping me share my story in a different way! Have a watch if you got some time❤️ https://t.co/WMMkfHTUfD— luke prokop (@lukeprokop_6) June 23, 2022
“I think it’s been translating a lot into my summer and my summer training. I’ve noticed myself being a lot more confident on the ice,” Prokop told The Athletic last July. “Being able to truly be who I am. This is the best I’ve ever felt in the summer and I think a large part of that is due to this process of me coming out.”
That directly cuts against one of the many misnomers about coming out: that it will negatively impact an athlete’s performance. Out pro gay soccer player Collin Martin told me on a recent edition of my podcast, “The Sports Kiki,” he started playing better when he came out, too.
So much stress was lifted off of his shoulders.
We awarded Prokop Outsports Male Hero of the Year honors in 2021 for vocally dispelling stereotypes. The stage for him to keep doing that keeps getting bigger.