The Arizona Coyotes helped make history when they selected British forward Liam Kirk in last season’s draft, but that decision looks to have been the right one.
Kirk became the first English-born and trained player to be drafted into the NHL when the Arizona Coyotes selected him in the seventh round (189th overall) in 2018.
The Maltby, Yorkshire native was then selected ninth overall by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL Import Draft, where he is currently developing his talents.
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Kirk started fairly slowly in the OHL, but has turned things up in recent weeks to register 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 39 regular season appearances with the historic major junior organisation.
The Englishman has been absent from the Petes’ roster recently, however, as he flew out to Estonia to represent Team Great Britain in the World Junior Championships (Division 2A).
For his home nation, he was named the captain of the team and truly dominated the competition on route to earning a bronze medal for his country.
A disappointing start to GB’s opening game against Lithuania prevented the team from claiming any points before the Young Lions finally finished third place behind hosts Estonia and Lithuania, beating Romania, South Korea and Spain in the process.
Kirk, meanwhile, received the prestigious Forward of the Tournament award – an accolade fully deserved after the former Sheffield Steelers product earned five goals and 14 total points in just five games, leading the tournament’s second-highest producer, teammate Joshua Waller, by five points.
This marks two consecutive Division 2A World Junior Championships that Kirk has won both a bronze medal and been named as the best forward in the tournament.
Kirk will now return to Canada to continue his development with the Petes, aiming to build on the strong form he carried into and throughout the international tournament.
Seventh-round selections are longshots to make the NHL, but if Kirk is able to continue his strong development path over the next year or so, there could be plenty to be excited about for the Coyotes, who could move him to the Tucson Roadrunners before considering whether or not to give him a shot in the big league.
Until then, it will be interesting to watch Kirk go from strength to strength and see if he can do what no other English-born, and trained, players have done before.
What do you think of the positive news regarding the Coyotes prospect? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!