Warning: Sheffield Steelers NHL-target could be playing too much; video

Sheffield Steelers’ coach Paul Thompson is concerned that in-demand teenager Liam Kirk faces burn-out in a 100-game season.

The Maltby marvel will be in the Great Britain U18 squad facing Australia, Korea, Lithuania and Poland, along with hosts Estonia in Division 2 Group A of the World Championship (April 1-7.)
Kirk - who has been scouted three times by NHL club Buffalo Sabres and, last weekend, by Boston Bruins - will miss out on Sheffield’s Play Off quarter finals against Guildford Flames this weekend.
Thompson said of the 18 year old: “He is going to play for the 18s, the 20s and probably going to make the seniors as well, so it’s a little bit too much to play in three tournaments in one year.

"I don’t think he has got anything to prove at the under 18 level but we have to adhere my the rules.
“Most federations look at their young, talented players and wouldn’t really put them into three competitions in one year.

"Liam will probably be playing close on to 100 games this year and I am not sure that’s the right way for development.
“But he goes and represents Great Britain U18s and it could be the last games he is playing for the Sheffield Steelers in the forseeable future.”
The coach added: “I think north America is going to beckon for him and we wish him well and hope he sticks over there.”
He said Cole Shudra, 19, and Kieran Brown, 17, were “both making big strides.”
Shudra was working hard on the fourth line and “Brownie is a talented boy who will be working full time for the club next year.
“If Liam goes, he goes with our blessing and we wish him all the best. We feel we have been a big contributor to him getting that opportunity and we will work with young guys underneath that.”

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In demand: Liam Kirk

In demand: Liam Kirk