NHL affilliates woo Sheffield Steelers draftee

Liam Kirk, picture by Dean WoolleyLiam Kirk, picture by Dean Woolley
Liam Kirk, picture by Dean Woolley
Two north American major junior teams are already willing to offer Liam Kirk a chance of stardom on the world's biggest ice hockey circuit.

The Sheffield Steelers left winger will be a late round entrant in the NHL entry draft in Dallas on June 22.

The 18-year-old winger is currently in Buffalo, upstate New York, attending a pre-draft “NHL Scouting Combine” event where scouts and franchise officials will check him out, in terms of biometrics, aerobic ability, core and grip strength, medical examinations and character assessment.

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The Maltby teenager won’t have a problem in terms of personality, despite his relative inexperience of 71 league games with Sheffield. Asked if he was nervous about the sharply-focused analysis of him ahead, Kirk told The Star: “A bit, but I’m more excited than anything. I just have to go and be myself and let them see what I can do.”

Neither is Kirk, who was watched by several NHL scouts last season, anxious what fate awaits in the draft.

“I am fairly sure I will be offered something in the junior leagues. I have already spoken to multiple teams” he said. “Two of them are adamant they will take me if I am available to them.”

Kirk, born three days into the new millennium, will not return to the States for the Dallas draft.

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“I’ll just do something at home to try and take my mind of it” he said. “And then wait until somebody contacts me.”

Kirk, whose favourite NHL star is Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid, is grateful for the support from Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson. “Everything has been positive. Thommo said it was an opportunity I just had to take. It’s a step in the right direction for me, it’s the right thing to do” said the teen who started his career with Sheffield Rapiers.

A few weeks ago he a gold medal with Great Britain in the World Championships.