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Kirk, Coyotes' pick from England, selected in CHL Import Draft

Forward can play major junior hockey in North America next season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Liam Kirk, the first player born and trained in England to be chosen in the NHL Draft, was among 77 players selected in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft on Thursday.

The selection means Kirk, picked by the Arizona Coyotes in the seventh round (No. 189) of the 2018 NHL Draft on Saturday, can play major junior hockey in North America next season.

The 18-year-old forward, who plays for Sheffield in the Elite Ice Hockey League, was chosen No. 9 in the import draft by Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League.

Each of the 60 teams in the OHL, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League gets one pick in each of the two rounds but can pass on one or both of its picks. Each team can dress two import players per game.

Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic was chosen No. 1 by Saint John (QMJHL). He is eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Belarusian forward Vladimir Alistrov was No. 2, selected by Edmonton (WHL). Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, a second-round pick (No. 54) of the Buffalo Sabres in 2017, went to Sudbury (OHL) at No. 3.

Twelve players drafted by NHL teams were selected in the import draft. Swedish defenseman Erik Brannstrom was taken at No. 44 by Brandon. Selected at No. 15 by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Draft, he was the highest NHL-drafted player selected Thursday. 

"Liam is a great skater who made big improvements last season, and has a very strong character," said Peterborough coach Rob Wilson, who played for Sheffield for five seasons. "We're really looking forward to continuing his development. It's wonderful to be bringing a young British-born player to Peterborough, given the numerous connections the team has to Sheffield and the EIHL."

Wilson was part of the coaching staff for Great Britain. Kirk won a gold medal as the second-youngest player on Great Britain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship Division 1, Group A tournament in April. Peterborough assistants Derrick Walser (Belfast) and Andrew Verner (Newcastle, Sheffield) also played the EIHL.

Kirk (6-foot, 160 pounds) is attending Coyotes development camp this week. He had 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) for Sheffield last season, the most by an under-18 player in EIHL history.  

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