Liam Kirk sat and answered questions in front of the bright blue backdrop at Harborcenter, as surprised as anyone to be there. The 18-year-old had just finished his fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, concluding a week that once seemed like a pipe dream for a native of Rotherham, England.
Sure, Kirk always thought he could play in the NHL. But opportunity is rare for those who come up through the ranks in England, too rare to consider a real possibility. Only once has a player been trained in the U.K. and drafted into the NHL, when Tony Hand was selected by Edmonton with the last pick in 1986.