Image: Karl Denham
Image: Karl Denham

Following a breakout World Championship, what next for Liam Kirk?

Following a run of breakout performances at the IIHF World Championship, Liam Kirk is back on the agenda.

Elliotte Friedman has reported that the Arizona Coyotes have “given permission for teams to talk to Kirk.” However, as Arizona holds Kirk’s rights for another year, a trade will be required if the Briton is to join another NHL organisation.

Soon after, Craig Morgan told the BBC that Kirk’s representatives are engaged in conversations with the Coyotes regarding an entry level contract.

Interest in Kirk’s status has blossomed since the World Championship, where he played a starring role as Great Britain won its first top-flight game since 1962.

The former Peterborough Pete ended the tournament tied with Andrew Mangiapane on seven goals, a championship-leading clip. In seven group phase appearances, Kirk ranked sixth in scoring with nine points.

Who is Liam Kirk?

In 2018, Kirk became the first English-born and -trained player to be drafted by an NHL franchise.

Following his selection, the 6’1” winger spent two seasons in the OHL, registering 97 points in 110 appearances for the Peterborough Petes.

However, with the final year of his OHL eligibility wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, Kirk spent 2020/21 in Europe.

Handed special team assignments with Great Britain, Kirk registered nine points in seven appearances at the Worlds in Latvia.

What next for Liam Kirk?

Having impressed for Team GB in Riga, speculation regarding Kirk’s future is rife.

During the Worlds, the former Sheffield Steeler was linked with a move to SC Bern of the Swiss National League.

However, comments made by Bern CSO Raeto Raffainer quickly undermined any potential move.

“Yes, we are watching him,” Raffainer told Klaus Zaugg.

“But he will certainly be more expensive after this Championship and he would only be considered as a fifth import.”

“The risk is just too great that we will embarrass ourselves if we bring in a Brit as an import player,” Raffainer concluded.

At the start of June, reports in the United Kingdom linked Kirk with a switch to Finland’s Liiga, with a number of organisations interested in his services.

Although it is unclear where Kirk will eventually land, Sheffield Steelers head coach Aaron Fox has confirmed that Kirk will not skate in the EIHL next season.

All eyes on Arizona

The ball, then, is in the Arizona Coyotes’ court.

Impressed by Kirk’s play at the World Championship, Arizona GM Bill Armstrong must make a decision on the Englishman’s future.

If the Yorkshire-born forward isn’t in Arizona’s plans, the Coyotes should find a trade partner. On the back of a stunning display at the Worlds, Kirk’s stock has never been higher.

If a trade partner isn’t to be found, Kirk has options to play at a high level in Europe.

It is now or never for the Arizona Coyotes and Liam Kirk. ELC or not, something must be done about Kirk’s future.

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