On Monday, the Nashville Predators announced the signing of their 2014 third round pick, Justin Kirkland, to a three-year entry-level contract.
Kirkland, a member of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, was selected 62nd overall by the Preds in 2014. Over parts of four seasons with the Rockets, Kirkland has recorded 169 points (71g-98a) in 199 regular season games.
The 19-year-old has also added 31 points (19g-12a) in 47 playoff games with Kelowna, while playing a major role in helping the Rockets to a Memorial Cup birth in 2014-15 as the WHL representatives.
Following their Memorial Cup tournament in 2014-15, Kirkland had a breakout season in 2015-16 scoring 31 goals and 67 points in just 69 games for Kelowna. It was the first time he reached the 30-goal plateau in the WHL and his 67 points saw him tied for 26th in league scoring.
At 6-foot-3 and 183 pounds, the Alberta-native still has some growing to do before he’ll have an impact on the Predators lineup. He plays a tough game and doesn’t shy away from the physicality. While he won’t make an immediate impact for the Predators, his ability to play both sides of the ice should pay dividends down the road.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.