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Like Father, Like Son: Kienan Draper drafted by the Red Wings

18-year-old son of Kris Draper excited to follow in his father's footsteps

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings /

DETROIT -- It's every father's dream for their son to follow in their footsteps and be just like dad.

For Kienan Draper, though, the footsteps to follow are in the form of four Stanley Cup championships and legendary status as a member of the most infamous lines in NHL history.

Draper now has the opportunity to fill his father's shoes after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh round of Wednesday's 2020 NHL Draft.

The most satisfying part for Draper is that his father, Kris, is the Red Wings director of amateur of scouting and was the one who called his son's name to join the Wings with the 187th overall pick.

"To see my name there is a dream come true," the younger Draper said. "To be picked by such a high-class organization with so much history, I'm just so happy. To have my dad be part of it is very, very humbling, and I'm very happy to have that happen."

Video: Kienan Draper | 2020 NHL Draft

Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman said that scouts have been closely following Kienan Draper the last few years and stressed that he earned his spot on the Wings' draft board.

"A couple of our scouts-one in Ontario who followed Kienan at St. Andrew's College last year, and one of our scouts who was following him in Chilliwack-they were pushing pretty hard," Yzerman said. "Kris and I had a brief conversation about it recently and initially I said, 'are you sure you want to put your son in that position?' and then ultimately, my answer to him was, 'your obligation is to do whatever is right for the Detroit Red Wings and I trust your judgement,' and I know that he did that."

Kris Draper said he wouldn't have selected his son if he didn't deserve it.

"Obviously I'm super proud, very excited, but my job is to draft prospects that I feel are going to be part of the Detroit Red Wings going forward," he said. "I believe in Kienan and just as importantly, guys on our staff believed in him as well, and that's how we ended up making that selection. He's continued to get better. He earned his position on our draft list by continuing to get better."

It's been a long road for the 18-year-old, who's been with his father every step of the way. He was that little kid running around the locker room of Joe Louis Arena, soaking up every bit of experience he could from his legendary father.

"He grew up in Joe Louis Arena, he played for Little Caesars AAA Hockey his entire amateur career," Kris Draper said. "He skated at The Joe, he skated at Little Caesars Arena, he skated at BELFOR (Training Center) and I'm proud of him, I'm proud of the work that he's put in.

"I'm proud of the passion that he has for the game of hockey and certainly the passion he has for the Detroit Red Wings. This is home. This is where he's grown up. He's watched some of the greatest Red Wings of all-time play."

Video: Kris Draper discusses day two of 2020 NHL Draft

Kienan Draper jumped on the national scouting radar as a member of the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Program in 2018-19, earning 54 points on 27 goals and 27 assists in 69 games with a plus-52 rating. At 18 years old, he's already 6-foot-2 and almost 195 pounds, which makes him a lot bigger than his predecessor.

He saw the work ethic his father brought to the rink every day as a member of the Grind Line and knows he'll have to duplicate that work ethic to be the second Draper to don the Winged Wheel.

"I'm very driven. I want to make it a reality to be able to put that sweater on and wear that Winged Wheel," he said. "It's something I've been dreaming of since I was 4 or 5 years old, so now that Step 1 has been done, I'm ready to keep working hard and make it come true."

Kienan Draper said the biggest thing his father taught him was to be humble and out-work everyone else.

"As a hockey player, I see his work ethic. Even after his career, he still works so hard at everything he does," the seventh-round pick said. "During his career, just seeing what type of person he was, he always had time for fans, just a hard worker on the ice, great teammate. I learned a lot from him over the years and through other teammates he had as well."

Video: Red Wings draft F Kienan Draper No. 187

Another person in the Wings organization rooting for Kienan Draper is fellow Michigan native Dylan Larkin.

Larkin has been a role model for him as a regular visitor to Little Caesars amateur practices, providing another stellar example for the youngster to follow. Larkin was one of hundreds of people to reach out and offer congratulations on draft night.

"Dylan Larkin's been a very great mentor to me," Kienan Draper said. "I've been able to speak with him a lot over the years since he's become a Wing. Seeing how hard he works and how good of a player he is, it's just been very good for me to see as I've developed more."

As Kienan Draper said, this is when the really hard work begins. He's committed to Miami (OH) for college and is currently playing in the BCHL for the Chilliwack Chiefs, working to further develop his game and continue earning opportunities.

Kris Draper knows it's incredibly difficult for a seventh-round pick to make it to the NHL, but like any good father hoping for his son to follow in his footsteps, the elder Draper has immense faith that his protégé can make it.

"When you start talking about inner drive and compete (level), he has that," Kris Draper said. "For me as a dad, just to be able to share that with him, that means a lot. I'm a big believer in compete, I'm a big believer in inner drive and I think if you can do that and you believe in yourself, you have a great opportunity, not only in the game of hockey, but in life. That's something that he has.

"He's proud of this and he also sees how hard it is. We can tell a lot of prospects how hard it is, but Kienan knows how hard it is just by being around it and seeing his dad. Anytime I had an opportunity for a teaching lesson, it was something about hard work and how hard work pays off. Those are intangibles that I'm really proud of that Kienan has."

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