Over the next few weeks, The Win Column has ranked the Calgary Flames’ best prospects in advance of the 2022 NHL Draft. Next up in our prospect rankings is the eighth ranked prospect: Rory Kerins.
With the Calgary Flames holding the 174th overall pick inside the sixth round of the 2020 NHL Draft, general manager Brad Treliving selected centre Rory Kerins out of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Not only has this selection been looking like a steal of a pickup at this stage, but based on Rory’s tweet from draft day, it became evidently clear that him being selected was meant to be.
Kerins is Canadian-born hailing out of Caledon, Ontario, registered at 5’11” and 185lbs. Although drafted as a centre, he can showcase his versatility at the wing.
Kerins’ strengths and weaknesses
Rory Kerins is a left-shot C/LW who plays the right way. He possesses a real solid two-way game in his arsenal and is excellent at anticipating plays. Kerins is not afraid to block shots and get in the way of intercepting passing lanes. He brings an element of physicality to his game and is a reliable option at dropping back defensively once the play transitions in the opposing direction.
A huge strength of his in terms of his all-round game would be his shot. He is excellent at reading plays and he’s gifted with a real deceptive release. Of note, Kerins’ on-ice vision is unreal, he is excellent at finding his teammates, and in particular at making seam passes which in turn, turn into real high-danger scoring chances.
When Kerins was selected, the main weakness scouts pondered was his size. He came in at 5’11”, 172 lbs, which had most scouts hoping that he’d eventually build up his frame by adding more weight. Currently, he comes in at 185 lbs, so he has indeed succeeded at building out his frame since his draft day.
Lastly, Rory can be relied upon in every facet of the game, he plays on the penalty kill, is a scoring option on the power play, and his even-strength work has spoken for itself.
Kerins’ on-ice results
In his draft year over the course of the 2019–20 shortened OHL season, Kerins played 64 games prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, tallying 30 goals and 29 assists for 59 points (a PPG pace of 0.92) while registering a +2 on the year. A year later, with the 2020–21 OHL season officially cancelled, Kerins found himself the opportunity to dress in four games with the Stockton Heat during the 2020–21 campaign.
This past season however was his real shining showcase, where he finished second in the OHL scoring race, tallying 43 goals and 75 assists for a total of 118 points—just six points behind Wyatt Johnson of the Windsor Spitfires for first place. Rory finished the year at a 1.92 point-per-game pace while scoring 12 of his goals on the power play, and even registered eight game-winners.
The Greyhounds would later go on to rout the Guelph Storm in five games over the course of the opening round of the OHL playoffs, before falling in five games to the Flint Firebirds in the second round. Kerins tallied one goal and nine assists through those 10 games, ultimately registering himself a point-per-game pace during the postseason.
After the Greyhounds’ season had officially come to a close, Rory was called up to Stockton to be a part of their deep Calder Cup run where he dressed in five games with the Heat.
All in all, Rory Kerins absolutely exploded offensively this past year, being known league-wide as one of the top producers in the Ontario Hockey League. What makes Kerins’ season even more astounding is the fact that he showed this crazy amount of progression this season, in spite of missing an entire year of pivotal development over the course of 2020–21.
Kerins signed to his entry-level contract
Lastly, Rory Kerins signed his entry-level contract (ELC) with the club on March 1, 2022, set to begin in the 2022–23 season. Kerins’ ELC carries an AAV of $846,667 according to CapFriendly. With Rory Kerins being a 20-year-old, he has two options to ponder that will be on the table for him in 2022–23.
He does have the option to return to the Greyhounds as an over-ager next season if that path were to be permitting, although his offensive output has most believing he will be a regular full-time pro playing for the Flames’ to-be-named Calgary-based AHL affiliate when the puck drops on next year’s AHL season.