Does Liam Kirk have a legitimate shot with the Arizona Coyotes?

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - APRIL 18: Great Britain Ice Hockey Team Forward, Liam Kirk. IIHF World Championship Division 1A (Photo by Dean Woolley)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - APRIL 18: Great Britain Ice Hockey Team Forward, Liam Kirk. IIHF World Championship Division 1A (Photo by Dean Woolley) /

Liam Kirk might just be the most intriguing prospect in the NHL, but does he have a legitimate chance of making it with the Arizona Coyotes?

Kirk made history when he was selected by the Coyotes in the seventh round (189th overall) at this year’s NHL draft – becoming the first-ever English-born and English-trained player drafted into the big leagues.

He is the third player from the United Kingdom to be selected, behind Tony Hand, selected in the 12th round (252nd overall) of the 1986 draft by the Edmonton Oilers, and Colin Shields, selected in the sixth round (195th overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000.

Eyes around the hockey world are now fixed on Kirk and his development, with the 6-foot-1, 168lbs forward being picked up by the OHL’s Peterborough Petes – ninth overall in the OHL Import Draft this year.

He was selected by the Arizona Coyotes and Petes on the back of a solid year, earning 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 52 EIHL games as a 17-year-old.

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Those stats don’t sound overly impressive to most, but Kirk was playing with fully grown men from all over the world in the top professional league in his country, a league that is considered to be on par with the North American ECHL.

He also represented his country five times in this year’s World Championship Division I success – seeing Great Britain win gold and earn promotion back into the Elite Division for the first time since 1994.

Kirk will have a chance next year to again play for his country, but this time against the likes of Canada, the USA and Finland.

His development will be overseen by Petes head coach Rob Wilson, a Canadian that spent most of his playing and coaching career in the UK with the likes of the Newcastle Vipers, Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers – the team that Kirk was drafted from.

The decision to draft Kirk and have him develop in major juniors appears to be paying dividends, with the young forward having a goal and an assist in his first two games for the Petes – having been a part of the first round of cuts at the Coyotes’ training camp.

With Kirk’s experience playing with fully grown men, in a competitive top-tier league akin to the third-best league in North America, he should have a real shot at developing into a player the Arizona Coyotes might have to consider down the road.

Some ECHL players progress into the AHL before finally being given a shot in the majors, but Kirk is taking a different route that could fast-track him once he is too old or is promoted by the team.

If Kirk can maintain a point-per-game scoring record this season, and perform well with Great Britain at the World Championships, he may find himself given a shot at competing for a spot with the Tucson Roadrunners.

Kirk has good height but needs to put on some weight to be able to realistically compete at a higher level and it is expected that the Petes will help him refine his raw talent, better preparing him for camp next season.

If Kirk isn’t able to maintain his positive start across the season, he may find himself back in Britain sooner rather than later.

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What do you think Coyotes fans? Will Liam Kirk have a legitimate shot with the team once his time in the OHL is up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!