Sports

Langley's Kyle Burroughs on the rise heading into NHL Draft

Kyle Burroughs is ranked 133rd among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. The NHL draft is this Sunday in New Jersey. - Keith Hershcmiller/Regina Pats
Kyle Burroughs is ranked 133rd among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service. The NHL draft is this Sunday in New Jersey.
— image credit: Keith Hershcmiller/Regina Pats

Kyle Burroughs had hoped to build off a solid rookie season in the Western Hockey League, but instead found himself struggling out of the gate at the start of his second year with the Regina Pats.

As a 16-year-old — playing against competition as many as four years older than he was — Burroughs was steady, registering eight points in 55 games and was a plus-7.

Nothing gaudy, but good, respectable numbers for a newcomer in the league.

So with heightened expectations, Burroughs began year two with the Pats in September.

“He got off to a rough start,” admitted head coach Malcolm Cameron.

“I don’t know if it was the pressure he put on himself because of the year he had as a 16-year-old.

“(But) by Christmas time, he came back and completely changed his game and became a real, real solid player for us.”

Burroughs was used in all facets of the game and was playing about 30 minutes per night, huge minutes no matter the level.

And he stepped up at the perfect time as the Pats defensive corps were ravaged by injuries.

“For the longest time, he was the veteran guy back there because of the injuries we had to the older guys,” Cameron said.

“He certainly turned his game around in the second half and his draft status and ranking jumped up tremendously.”

According to NHL Central Scouting’s midterm ranks, Burroughs was listed 206th among North American skaters. But by the time the final rankings were released this spring, Burroughs had jumped to 133rd.

The NHL holds their annual entry draft on Sunday (June 30) at the Prudential Center in New Jersey.

For his part, Burroughs — who turns 18 on July 12 — is trying not to think too much about the impending draft.

“Just hope for the best and try not let it affect my day-to-day things,” he said.

“But obviously it is in the back of my mind.

“I try not to let it be too much of a focus in my life.”

When he spoke to The Times last week, he was preparing for his final provincial exam — for his English class — as well as graduation from Brookswood Secondary.

While some prospects chose to attend the draft in person — which Aldergrove’s Shea Theodore plans to do — Burroughs will do so from home with his family.

Being drafted would be one step closer to achieving the ultimate dream of playing in the NHL. But just days away from determining where he may one day play, and it hadn’t quite sunk in yet.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I am sure it will,” he said.

“I am kind of in awe right now, I can’t comprehend it. It is such a big dream and so close.”

Burroughs, a third round pick (47th overall) out of the Langley Minor Hockey Association by Regina in the 2010 WHL bantam draft, earned all-star accolades in his one and only season in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with 11 goals and 36 points in 36 games.

He joined the Pats the following season and his game really took off his sophomore year.

“It was a big difference (from year one to two),” he said.

“I went from being the sixth or seventh defencemen on that team, surrounded by guys that are 19, 20 years old, to being one of the most veteran guys on the blue-line this year, so it was two ends of the spectrum.”

When the injury bug hit the team, Burroughs was needed to do more and he did not disappoint, finishing with five goals and 28 assists in 70 games. While the numbers may seem pedestrian — he was 33rd in league scoring for defencemen — what stands out is that he had 26 of his points in the season’s final 35 games. Had he maintained that pace for a full season, Burroughs would have cracked the top 10 among defencemen.

“I wasn’t worried about the numbers, I was just worried about playing my role and contributing to the team,” he said. “Once I became more comfortable, the points started coming and I kept rolling with it.”

He earned the team’s top defenceman award (side photo).

“It was hard to believe he was a 17-year-old with the way he played and led our d-corps,” Cameron said.

“A lot of that can be attributed to he kept his game simple: playing physical, making a good first pass, jumping up in the rush and added on his game from there.”

And despite not being the biggest of players — Burroughs is 5-11 and 175 pounds — he plays a physical game.

“He is not afraid to drop the mitts and take on anybody, regardless of their age or size,” Cameron said.

Regardless of what happens in Sunday’s draft, Burroughs is focused on working out, getting stronger and taking more of a leadership role next season with the Pats. He said he doesn’t worry about getting complacent.

“I have never been satisfied, there are always guys that are going to be better than you,” he said.

“Until you are the best … that is something you keep chasing.”

Burroughs is working out this summer with Impact Hockey Development, a Langley-based training program.

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