Great Britain forward Liam Kirk has been selected 189th in the seventh round of the NHL Draft by Arizona Coyotes.
Kirk was the Coyotes final selection in the seventh round (189th overall) of the 2018 Draft. The 6-foot-2, 161-pound Kirk registered 9-7-16 and six PIM in 52 games last season. The 18-year-old native of Rotherham, GBR is the first player born and trained in England to be selected in the NHL Draft.
Kirk said: “I don’t have any words for [being drafted], I’m just very excited and really emotional.
“I’ve been waiting for it and when it finally happens it’s an amazing feeling.”
Liam follows the footsteps of other British players, including hockey legend Tony Hand who was drafted 252nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986, and his GB Teammate Colin Shields drafted 195th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000..
Arizona Coyotes Head of Amateur Scouting, Tim Bernhardt said Kirk’s natural skills are impressive.
“Our Finnish scout, Max Kolu, went and saw him and came away saying, ‘Yeah, this guy’s a pretty good player,” Bernhardt said. “… We interviewed him at the Combine and talked with him and he’s definitely ready to come over (to North America). He wants to pursue and take his game to the highest level that he can take it to. Kudos to him for stepping up. You can see that he’s a determined young man.”
It’s been an impressive year for Kirk. First, he won a bronze medal with the U20s in the Division 2A, making a great contribution to the medal as he had the best face-off percentage, most goals, assists and points (7+7 in five games for 14 points).
In April this year, he not only got promoted to the Division 1B with the U18 squad, but Liam was also part of the senior team who won the gold medal in Budapest got promoted to the top division for the first time since 1994.
“Winning gold has been my favourite moment so far in connection with ice hockey. Winning gold for GB, lifting that trophy up is an unbelievable feeling, I will never forget that,” added Liam with a massive smile on his face.
Playing at this high level at such a young age has its bumps as well but he is trying to be a normal teenager as much as he can.
He said: “My life is a little different from the others as we train in the mornings, so I miss the first half of school and have to go back in the afternoon to finish the work.
“It’s a bit tough, I miss out a lot of social events on the weekends but I still try to be a teenager and enjoy life as much as I can – and be with my friends as much as I can.”
Even though most of his friends or team-mates are preparing for their summer holidays, Liam had to face one more challenge, crowning his great season, as he attended the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.
Between the 27th May and 2nd June, the teenage players had to face medical assessments, a series of physical tests and interviews with different NHL teams as a preparation for the Draft.
This was the perfect occasion for Liam to show those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean that he is nippy and fast and hard to contain when he gets going.
He grabbed the opportunity, stayed focused and even came ninth at the pull-ups. The tests and the rankings don’t mean that much by themselves but it is another great chance for Liam to put himself on the map.
The Coyotes will hold their prospect development camp from June 25-29 at Gila River Arena. On-ice sessions are set for 2:00-5:45 p.m. on June 25, 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on June 26 and 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on June 28. The players will participate in an intra-squad game on June 29 at 6:00 p.m. The practices and game are free and open to the public.
A dream come true! Huge honour to be drafted to the @ArizonaCoyotes organisation. Massive thanks to my friends, coaches and especially my family. Also for the support from the British fans leading up to and after the draft. Thank you to everyone for the kind messages. #GB