Future Flyers Watch: Nick Luukko opens up on life after being drafted by team his Father ran

NCAA HOCKEY: MAR 20 Hockey East Championship – Vermont v UMASS Lowell
March 20, 2015: University of Vermont’s Defenseman Nick Luukko (25) clears the puck. The UMASS Lowell River Hawks defeated the Vermont Catamounts 4-1 in the semi-final of the Hockey East championships at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

The Flyers are ready to rock and roll this coming season. Its only August, but the organization and their orange clad fans can’t wait to get this season started.

Things haven’t looked this good within the Flyers organization in terms of their prospects well, since Rocky ran up the steps of the Art Museum years ago. Moreover, hockeyinsiders.net just voted the Flyers as having the best farm system in the NHL. Their depth runs all the way through to their ECHL affiliate the Reading Royals. Just who in the Royals organization is hoping to make the next leap into the AHL? Meet a high profile defenseman Nick Luukko. Yes, he’s the son of former Comcast CEO Peter Luukko, but this young prospect has earned his hockey career. I was fortunate enough to interview Luukko recently, and he is very determined to showcase his skills for the Flyers AHL affiliate the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Luukko was born on November 29, 1991, in West Chester, PA. He was drafted by the Flyers in the 6th round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Growing up Luukko was always around the rink, so he instantly fell in love with the sport. Luukko’s love and passion for the sport of hockey led him to the Reading Royals organization for the 2015-16 ECHL season. He razzled and dazzled by shutting down top lines all year, and Luukko posted a solid +2 rating. For the season, Luukko registered 4 goals, and 10 assists for a total of 14 points in 65 games played. After this solid season with the Royals, Luukko just wanted to do the best he could, and it brought him back to the time he was drafted by the Flyers in 2010.

It was a surreal feeling being drafted. It’s a feeling that is a once in a lifetime experience. My Dad honestly did not want me to get drafted by the Flyers. He told Paul Holmgren not to draft me because of him being affiliated with the company.”

The West Chester native Luukko continues,”It came around to the 6th round, and I got my name called. Homer introduced me. You know I have taken it from there. Not many 6th round picks make it in any sport, but I’m just trying to do the best I can. You never know where life is going to take you.”

This young up and coming prospect, Luukko trained and trained in the offseason to prove to the doubters he could succeed in the sport of hockey. His efforts paid off in a big way as he enjoyed a career year for the Royals in 2016-17. For the season, Luukko registered 6 goals, and 14 assists for a total of 20 points in 70 games played. What was even more impressive, Luukko had a career best +22 rating at years end. Just how did he do it?

I’m hardworking. I try to do the best I can in the off-season in regards to training, so I don’t become slow footed. That’s how you get burnt on a daily basis during the games playing against these great players. But, I try to do the best I can for the game.

Luukko continues, “I focus more on +- for defenseman. I’m not really a stat guy. I know I had goals and assists, but if you’re a plus player then it shows you’re doing stuff well as a player. You look at Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, and Luc Robitaille who was a 9th round draft pick I believe. They are all good +/-. If I can implicate them, then I’m doing something good.”

If one has watched Luukko play the last few seasons for the Royals, then one would instantly notice his smooth skating and shutdown defenseman abilities. Luukko has really developed into a fine two-way defenseman that can be relied upon in all situations the coaching staff asks of him. He has earned his way into the Flyers organization, it wasn’t just handed to him on a silver platter.

Beings on how high my dad was in the Flyers organization, I was always around the rink. I became a rink rat (Laughing). I take nothing for granted. I’ve earned everything, and I didn’t want to go off the overall success my dad had. He couldn’t be happier at this point in my career, but even if I have a good game my dad is my harshest critic.”

The Royals Product continues to state, “I just focus on getting better. I’m in contact with a few AHL teams, who hopefully I can jump into their training camp. Last year, I had a training camp audition with Toronto. It went over well, but they were pretty stocked with their team at the time.”

The Flyers have become well stocked defensive wise within the organization. However, you can never have too many defensemen within the system. Do not be surprised to see Luukko tryout for the Phantoms in the fall, and eventually become a mainstay in the AHL. Luukko has the character and traits to succeed in the hockey world. He leaves us with this unique message in regards to pressure from his dad:

“It added more pressure because I didn’t want to fail. I fed off it. I’ve done a nice job, and wanted to prove I could do it. Me being drafted helped, but it does add pressure.”

The Purple fans of the Royals are dedicated and passionate, much like Flyers fans. Next Thursday Nick Luukko will be featured on our brand new prospects podcast . Until then Royals and Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.

 

Mandatory Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via AP Images

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