Canucks Kyle Burroughs’ Hockey Journey Comes Back Home

When Kyle Burroughs signed with the Vancouver Canucks back in July, I don’t think many people thought he would be in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers on opening night. Though there he was, playing on the third pairing with another training camp standout in Jack Rathbone. Logging only 11:17 of ice time, he finished the game with two hits, two blocked shots, and a glorious scoring chance that was stopped by Mike Smith. Imagine what he could do with more.

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Smart and steady in his own zone and jumping up into the play when he got the chance, Burroughs was impressive throughout the preseason playing in four of the seven games. As much as Rathbone forced the trade of Olli Juolevi, his emergence as a legitimate NHL option surely helped as well. The 6-foot Vancouver native, who was drafted all the way down in the seventh round at 196th overall, has defied the odds and is now on the cusp of playing in front of friends and family in the home opener on Oct. 26 against the Minnesota Wild. Talk about a dream come true for the 26-year-old.

So in the spirit of his Canucks debut, let’s find out more about him and his journey as he hopes to write a new chapter in Vancouver for the name Burroughs.

Burroughs’ Days in the WHL With the Regina Pats

After playing minor hockey in nearby Langley and Aldergrove with the Langley Eagles and Aldergrove Kodiaks, Burroughs made his way to Regina to join the Pats. Drafted in the third round of the 2010 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft, he ended up spending four seasons with the team, two of which he wore the “C” as the captain.

Burroughs’ first season as captain was also his best campaign in the WHL. Finishing with eight goals and 40 points in 58 games, he was named the Pats Defenceman of the Year for the second straight season and even ended up playing his first pro game in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

I got down there after a game one day, the next day I was practicing and the next day we had an eleven o’clock game so it happened really quickly…It was a good experience for me playing with guys like that. They’re always giving you tips to help you work on your game and develop you to the next level.

Kyle Burroughs after playing his first professional game

Burroughs returned to the WHL the following season and continued to progress by scoring two goals and 22 points in 36 games along with a staggering plus-31 in the plus/minus column. With the Pats out of the playoff race, they decided to deal him to the Medicine Hat Tigers in a trade for defenceman Connor Hobbs and two draft picks. He finished his Pats career with 20 goals and 103 points in 220 games.

Burroughs Grinds It Out in the AHL

Like his namesake, Burroughs had to pay his dues in the ECHL and AHL before finally getting his chance to impress in the NHL. After spending his first 18 games in the ECHL with the Missouri Mavericks, he became one of the Sound Tigers’ most trusted defencemen. Before a leg injury forced him to miss a month of action, he was playing in all situations and was establishing himself as a go-to player in the AHL.

He got to the point where he established himself as a solid American League defenseman, said Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson, praising Burroughs’ shot-blocking on the penalty kill, his hockey sense and his improvement in the pace of his game…He took steps in his development to be a regular.

Kyle Burroughs, Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Kyle Burroughs, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Burroughs played four straight seasons without getting a sniff at the NHL. Even though he was in the New York Islanders’ system, he never got the call to the big leagues. Then, after only one season with the “C” stitched to his sweater, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche where he finally, after 321 AHL games, made his NHL debut.

Burroughs Finally Makes His NHL Debut

Apr. 5, 2021 versus the Minnesota Wild. That date will forever be etched in Burroughs’ mind as that was the day he stepped foot onto NHL ice for the first time in his career. It took five years in the AHL and a trade to the Avalanche to do it, but his hard work and determination finally paid off. He made his mark on the scoresheet too, as he fought 6-foot-6 Nick Bjugstad in the third period and held his own, all while standing six inches shorter than him. Then just two days later, he recorded his first NHL point on a goal by Andre Burakovsky.

“(Burroughs) picked up his physical play, obviously he gets in the fight. (It’s) great to see him do well and bring that emotion and energy to our team. I think the guys were excited for him, and any time you get a guy going into his first NHL game and he’s able to make an impact like he did tonight, I think is a positive.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar after Burroughs’ first NHL game

Burroughs’ NHL stint only lasted five games that season, but his presence was felt on each and every shift. Averaging only 10:05 of ice time, he recorded at least a hit in every single game. He must have made an impression on the Canucks’ scouting staff because three months later, he was signing a contract to play for his hometown team.

Burroughs’ Dream Continues With the Canucks

Despite having 988 games of combined experience and two Stanley Cup rings over him, Burroughs beat out veterans Luke Schenn and Brad Hunt for the coveted opening night roster spot against the Oilers. He didn’t make Green and company look like dummies either, as he was one of the bright spots on a defensive unit that arguably looked better than last season. He was clean defensively, spent time on the penalty kill, and even came close to his first NHL goal. If not for a brilliant save by Smith, he would have been posing for a picture after the game with a puck etched with the words, First NHL Goal.

After comments from his head coach praising his quiet defensive game, I don’t foresee Burroughs coming out of the lineup anytime soon. The fan in me wants him to score his first goal in Vancouver with friends and family looking on. That would be the icing on the cake for a hockey journey filled with hard work, determination, and moxie. It’s time for Canucks fans to cheer the name Burrows or in this case, Burroughs once again.

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