In his second season in Canadian major juniors, Arizona Coyotes prospect Liam Kirk has begun to show his true potential after an impressive start to the season.
The Yorkshireman, originally selected in the seventh round (189th overall) of the 2018 Draft, had an impressive rookie season with the Peterborough Petes in 2018/19, seeing expectations raised heading into the new campaign.
After scoring 26 goals and registering 47 total points in 63 regular season games, Kirk was expected to take the next steps in his development in order to prove to the organization that he can become a potential NHL player in the future.
Kirk was named an alternate captain of the team that selected him ninth overall in the 2018 CHL Import Draft and has made great strides in his progression, effectively solidifying his role as a top-line forward at that level.
Partnered alongside Toronto Maple Leafs prospects Nick Robertson (2nd Round, 2019) and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (3rd Round, 2018), Kirk has managed to score 12 goals and has 27 total points in just 20 regular season games to date.
Kirk has improved his offensive production at a staggering rate, currently averaging 1.35 points per game compared to last season’s 0.75 while also improving his shooting percentage from 14.61% to 15.71%.
This jump in production will no doubt be a pleasing sight for the powers that be within the Arizona Coyotes organization, with the 19-year-old forward developing into a truly intriguing prospect that could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Conor Garland.
Kirk’s progression this season has seen him forego the opportunity to represent Team GB at this season’s World Junior Championships (Division 2A) in order to remain in Canada and continue his development with the Petes.
With Kirk already established as a regular for the full Great Britain national team, the decision to miss the World Juniors is a logical step in his career.
When the OHL season is over, he will likely represent his country in the World Championships, coming up against top teams such as Canada and Sweden.
While this means he is unlikely to appear for the Tucson Roadrunners in the playoffs, something that could be a consideration, he is showing the potential to make the AHL team next season out of training camp.
A return to the OHL is still an option, but if Kirk is able to reach the 85-point mark that he is on pace to achieve, then he could be given time to develop his game further in the minors, adjusting to the professional game and putting him close to the NHL club.
Kirk’s impressive start will be a storyline to watch closely as the season progresses and his career in general will certainly be watched closely by many involved in the game over in the United Kingdom.
Stats sourced via Elite Prospects and Pick224