Liam Kirk takes further step towards NHL by signing Arizona Coyotes entry-level contract

LIAM KIRK says he is a ‘step closer’ to his dream of playing in the NHL after signing a three-year entry level contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

ENTRY LEVEL: Liam Kirk, in action for Great Britain in the recent World Championships in Riga. The 21-year-old winger has signed an NHL entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

The 21-year-old enjoyed a remarkable World Championship with Great Britain in Riga recently, finishing joint-top goalscorer with seven goals in as many games for head coach Pete Russell’s side.

The Maltby-born winger was initially selected by the Coyotes in the seventh round of the NHL Draft back in 2018, making history as the first English-trained player to be drafted. He spent the next two seasons in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes under the watchful eye of former Sheffield Steelers’ defenceman Rob Wilson.

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But the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to his progress in North America, as he returned to the UK to wait to see what his next move would be.

Liam Kirk, pictured on the bench during his Shefield Steelers days. Picture: Dean Woolley.

A third season with Peterborough as an overage player wasn’t possible becaue of the continued pandemic, but he got ice time through a short spell in Sweden’s third tier with Hanhals IF before hooking up with former team Sheffield Steeldogs - the club who gave him his senior debut in 2016 – for the behind-closed-doors Spring Cup.

Kirk then played with another of his former clubs – Sheffield Steelers – in the Elite Series and reached an agreement with head coach Aaron Fox which would have seen him play for the Elite League outfit next season if he was unable to earn a deal in North America.

But his future will now see him return to North America, where it is likely he will head to pre-season training camp with the Tucson Roadrunner, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate team.

“I’m looking forward to linking-up with Arizona with an entry-level contract,” said Kirk. “It has always been my dream to play in the NHL so to get this deal with the Coyotes is fantastic.

“I am a step closer to that dream and I will continue to push myself to reach the elite level.”

Kirk is spending today talking with the next generation of GB ice hockey players who are taking part in a three-day junior camp at Ice Sheffield.