HAVING now settled into his new surroundings, next week sees Liam Kirk embark on the latest stage of a hockey career which he hopes will take him all the way to the NHL.
After becoming the first English-born and English-trained player to be selected in this the NHL Draft – a seventh-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes back in June – it has been pretty much non-stop for the 18-year-old winger.
A two-week development camp followed in Phoenix, during which time he was picked by the Peterborough Petes as the eighth overall pick in the Import Draft of the Canadian Hockey League – regarded as the best junior league in the world.
Last week, Kirk headed to North America once again after spending the latter part of his summer skating with former club Sheffield Steelers in their pre-season camp, building up his speed and putting into practice what he had learned in Arizona.
He will continue his progression under the watchful eye of former Steelers’ favourite Rob Wilson, who was appointed as the Petes’ head coach in April.
Kirk will begin pre-season camp with the Petes on Tuesday for two weeks before being sent back to Arizona for the Coyotes’ rookie camp. If all goes well, he will be invited to attend the NHL team’s main pre-season training camp.
Having played among men for two seasons under Paul Thompson at the Steelers in the Elite League, Kirk will once again be playing against and alongside players his own age – a situation he is looking forward to.
“There are going to be a lot of kids in the same situation as me, wanting to make their mark and prove something to the clubs they have been drafted by that they can play in the NHL,” said Kirk. “I’m looking forward to playing juniors again, people that are around my age and where you can kind of get that in-the-room chemistry thing going.”
All the while he is in Peterborough, the influence of the Coyotes will never be too far away for Kirk, with development coaches and scouts keeping a constant watch on his development and, where necessary, pointing him in the right direction.
“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot this summer and came back from Arizona with plenty to work on,” added Kirk. “I’m ready to get going now and try to make my mark.”
I feel like I’ve progressed a lot this summer and came back from Arizona with plenty to work on. I’m ready to get going now and try to make my mark.Liam Kirk