As the 2022-23 season is in full swing, we take a look around the world at some Arizona Coyotes prospects and what they’ve been up to in the first edition of Coyotes Prospect Update. Up first this week is forward Liam Kirk. Recently re-assigned from the club’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Tucson Roadrunners to their ECHL affiliate Atlanta Gladiators, Kirk is out to pave his way to the Coyotes.
Kirk has been on quite the roll lately with the Gladiators, registering four points on two goals and two assists in six games. The possibility of a promotion back up to Tucson still remains a strong likelihood, but he will need to keep up his recent success if he wants to catch the team’s attention.
From Seventh-Round Selection To Today
Kirk’s build-up to becoming a top prospect in the Coyotes organization started in 2018 at the NHL Draft when they selected him in the seventh round with the 189th pick. The first British-born player to be selected in the NHL Draft wouldn’t be the first obstacle he’d face either. As a seventh-round selection, many doubted he’d ever climb the ranks in the organization’s prospect pool.
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After registering 47 points in 63 games on 26 goals and 21 assists during his draft year, Kirk followed it up with a 50-point season in 47 games on 21 goals and 29 assists while serving as an alternate captain for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Peterborough Petes. The future was looking bright for the Coyotes’ prospect and the success didn’t stop there. Twenty points in 14 games while on loan with the Sheffield Steelers during a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with nine points in seven games for Team Great Britain at the IIHF World Championship, had scouts turning their heads.
Unfortunate Injury Delays Growth
After strong 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons Kirk looked poised to make the team’s opening night roster ahead of the 2021-22 season. He signed his three-year entry-level contract and had a renewed sense of optimism. Unfortunately, he was sent down to Tucson where he started the season with the Roadrunners. After starting the campaign with three points in eight games, he suffered a knee injury, which caused him to miss the rest of the year.
Bad turned to worse for Kirk. After missing the rest of the season, he returned to the Roadrunners for the beginning of the 2022-23 season. He only suited up for one game before being re-assigned to the Atlanta Gladiators for a conditioning stint and some much-needed playing time.
Bright Future Still On The Horizon For Kirk
While one could view this demotion as a negative for Kirk, who looks to achieve his goal of reaching the NHL, it’s quite the opposite. He’s shined so far in his stint with Atlanta since arriving in the ECHL. He’s getting more than adequate ice time with Gladiators, something that he wasn’t receiving with the Roadrunners, and he’s working on his game while getting his footing back underneath him.
Getting called back up to Tucson before season’s end is still a strong likelihood. An unfortunate injury last year set him back and derailed his development. His path to the Coyotes is further away than it was two years ago, but the progress he’s made so far is a positive reassurance for the organization. He’s a hard worker who’s been fighting for his shot since being drafted. He’s still one of the Coyotes’ brightest prospects and he has all the tools necessary to be an NHL player one day.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.