The Nashville Predators announced on Monday that they have signed 2014 third-round pick to a three-year, entry-level contract. Kirkland's AHL salary will be $70,000 per season while his NHL salary next year will be $667,500 followed by a salary of $742,500 during the final two years of his contract.
The 19-year-old will carry a cap-hit of $717,500.
Last season, Kirkland recorded 67 points (31G, 36A) in 69 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. His 67 points were the second most among Rockets behind only Tyson Baillie who had a monster 95 point campaign. Kirkland did however lead the Rockets in scoring in the WHL Playoffs with 11 goals and four helpers in 18 games. During his career as a Rocket, Kirkland lit the lamp 71 times and added 98 assists in 199 games.
So, all in all, Kirkland has taken the right steps in his development during his junior career. Whether or not it will translate to the AHL or NHL levels remains a mystery just like it does for every prospect.
What Kirkland does bring to the table is a big body at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. His tall and lanky figure has some filling out to do, but again, he is still a teenager.
Here is what Hockey's Future says about the newly inked Predator in terms of his talents:
Kirkland has the size to be a prototypical power forward and is willing to play in the small areas and in front of the net. His stick handling and pass receiving skills are still a work in progress and will need to improve if he is going to succeed in the tighter spaces at the pro level. Not overly abrasive despite his size, he is still developing in terms of positional play. Long-range Kirkland projects as a power forward-type with secondary scoring capabilities and the strength to win battles along the walls and in front of the opposing goaltender. His skill set would offer a compliment to the high-flying, smaller skill forwards in the Nashville pipeline.
Those are some nice words to read about Kirkland, seeing as how that was written before the start of this season. Time will only tell if Kirkland develops into the winger the Preds are hoping for, but there's more reasons to be confident in the young man's talents than not.