Luke Prokop -- a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft -- just announced he's gay ... saying in a statement Monday, "I am no longer scared to hide who I am."
The 19-year-old Nashville Predators prospect continued, "It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out."
Prokop -- a 6-foot-4, 217-pound defenseman who currently plays in the Western Hockey League for the Calgary Hitmen -- said he's hopeful coming forward with his truth will help him ultimately reach his goal of making an NHL roster.
Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
"From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player," Prokop said, "and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams."
If Prokop does make it to the NHL show ... he would become the first-ever openly gay player in the league.
"I hope that in sharing who I am I can help other people see that gay people are welcome in the hockey community, as we work to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone," Prokop said.
Both the Predators and the NHL have already released statements in support of Prokop ... with commissioner Gary Bettman saying Monday, "We pledged to do everything possible to ensure that Luke's experience is a welcoming and affirmative one and continue to work to ensure that any current or future NHL player contemplating following in his trailblazing footsteps knows our League is ready to provide full support."