NHL Draft War Room: Justin Kirkland

by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW) 

THW’s NHL Draft War Room Rankings – Apr-14: #66

THW’s NHL Draft Rankings – The Next Ones Edition (aka Chris’s List): #93 (March 2014; a definite riser for final rankings)

Justin Kirkland

Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland #23 (Photo: Marissa Baecker/WHL)
  • Hashtag: #MrProject
  • Team: 23, Kelowna, WHL
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 190 lb.
  • Born: Camrose, AB, 2-Aug-96
  • Twitter: @Kirkland96


Other Rankings

  • 45 – Craig Button, Mar-14
  • 88 – NHL Combined – Final, Apr-14

[Your quintessential draft resource:

2014 NHL Draft Guide: The Next Ones]

Worth Retweeting


[The 2014 NHL Draft War Room: Prospect Profile Index

Contains All the Prospects Profiled in This Series]


  • Quote 1: Kyle Woodlief at USAToday.com, “Kelowna Rockets first-year man Justin Kirkland, who played the last two seasons at noted Saskatchewan hockey factory Notre Dame, is a late-blooming power forward who is still filling out an impressive 6-3 frame after a recent growth spurt. One of our WHL scouts has been impressed by the seamless transition he has made into major junior, and sees a high end hockey IQ. Kirkland already graduated high school a year early to dedicate his draft season towards improving on ice and logging extra hours needed in the gym. For now we’ll call him a Red Line sleeper because we haven’t heard much talk about him yet among the scouting fraternity. But we’ll be surprised if there isn’t some added scouting attention on Kelowna in the second half.”
  • Quote 2: Bill Placzek at DraftSite.com, “Big winger is a late bloomer who played the past seasons at Notre Dame (Sask). Shows the ability to develop into a winger with a power game after some long term work.”

From the War Room

Eldon MacDonald, THW:  A few words on Justin Kirkland:

  • Mr. Project – I think Kyle Woodlief of USAToday.com described the case of Justin Kirkland correctly when he asked, “Best-case scenario: Could he become Jamie Benn lite?”.  Yes, Justin Kirkland is still a project but he is a worthwhile project that has power forward with size, speed and skills written all over him. A lot of teams and, yes, maybe all the teams, would be interested in taking on Mr. Project, Justin Kirkland.
  • Offense – Size, skating, hands, shooting, passing, Justin has all the basic skills you are looking for in a big power forward.
  • The goal – As a rookie in the Dub last season, Justin was very much a project in process. The long-term goal is for Justin to develop into that big power forward with speed, physicality and consistency. To achieve that goal, Justin will have to continue to improve upon the following:
    • Weight and strength– At 6’3, Justin already has the height of a power forward, two or three seasons of adding five to ten pounds of muscle will likely see him play professionally in the 205-215 range.
    • Physicality – The added weight and strength will cause Justin to naturally be more successful in his board work. With more success comes more confidence and with more confidence comes more willingness to compete and win battles along the boards and in front of the net like a true power forward should.
    • Consistency – This is something that will come naturally to Justin, I think, when he gains more experience and more strength.
  • Draft placement – OK, Justin’s draft placements are all over the place. However, I find it hard to believe that a prospect with size and the potential to become a true power forward, like Justin Kirkland, would not warrant a second round draft pick, maybe even high second round. Jamie Bennwas not picked until the fifth round at 129th overall; I don’t think all the teams in the NHL will make the same mistake twice.


  • Video 1: ShawTV – Okanagan 

  • Video 2: HockeyFightsPlus – Fight with Jesse Forsberg of the Moose Jaw Warriors