Britain’s Kirk scores Coyotes contract, chases NHL dream

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“Getting drafted is one thing, but getting an entry-level contract is another,” Kirk said, referring to the NHL’s standard rookie contract. “Players know that. It’s a lot of work.”

The next challenge is earning a roster spot. The Coyotes have the option of assigning him to a lower-tier affiliate team like the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL.

“For me, being a kid from Maltby, England, growing up watching these NHL players on highlights, it’s something you always dream about,” he said of making an NHL roster. “In England, it’s not an easy pathway to get to the NHL.

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“My experience at the worlds has definitely given me a lot more confidence. It’s going to be tough, these are top, top players. I’m not underestimating that, but … my mindset is to go in there and do everything I can to earn a spot.”

It won’t be his first rodeo in Arizona. Kirk attended Coyotes camps after being drafted and again in 2019 but acknowledges he didn’t wow the decision makers. Instead, he spent two years with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. He had 21 goals and 29 assists in 47 regular-season games in 2019-20.

“For me, I was disappointed in my last camp in 2019,” he said. “The first camp … you get there and you’re kind of in awe of the players and the caliber. The second camp … I wanted to go and prove myself. I just let myself down a little bit. I’m not saying that I did bad, but I think that I definitely could have done more.”

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