Niagara IceDogs forward Kevin He drafted by Winnipeg Jets

He becomes highest drafted Chinese born player in NHL history. Pictured: Kevin He. Photo Credit: CHL. 

The articulate, well-spoken Kevin He was almost at a loss for words when contacted by The Niagara Independent minutes after the Winnipeg Jets drafted the Niagara IceDogs forward in the fourth round, 109th overall in this past weekend’s NHL Entry Draft.

“I’m speechless right now, I’m still trying to soak it all in,” said He.

He was obviously someone the Jets were eyeing as they traded their fourth-round pick (123rd overall) and their seventh-round pick to move up to draft the 18-year-old, six-foot, 185-pound forward.

“We were staring at our list and when He was still sitting there, we just felt we had to be decisive there,” said Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “We didn’t think he was going to be around that much longer, so we just worked the phones to try and find somebody that we could partner up with to make that pick.”

He becomes the highest China-born draft pick in NHL history, and only the second in league history after Andong Song was picked 172nd overall by the New York Islanders in 2015.

Born in Beijing before moving to Canada when he was five, He scored 31 goals and 53 points in 64 games with the IceDogs last season.

Before the draft, Elite Prospects offered this scouting report on He: “An elite motor – that’s the source of He’s success. It powers every part of his game, including his non-stop forechecking presence, knack for stealing the puck at the blue line, and explosive open-ice hits. It’s also how He generates offence. He burns past defenders with powerful strides to get to the net, dropping the shoulder if necessary.”

He was joined by most of his family and the Niagara IceDogs staff for the draft at Sphere, which was hosting its first sporting event, in Las Vegas.

“We are extremely proud and happy for Kevin,” IceDogs head coach Ben Boudreau proclaimed. “He is an excellent role model in our community, he is a terrific teammate, and a deserving hockey player of this recognition.”

Boudreau went on to explain how important He’s drafting was for Niagara in the hockey world.

“This is a major turning point in our organization and demonstrates what is capable with the right attitude and work ethic. Kevin will be a shining example of what we are trying to accomplish with the Dogs organization.”

IceDogs owner Darren DeDobbelaer echoed many of Boudreau’s comments.

“Michele and I are very excited for Kevin and his family in this great accomplishment,” said DeDobblaer. “It shows Niagara’s commitment to developing players and putting a winning team on the ice. We will get there; this is simply the beginning.”

He will continue to train on and off the ice this summer before reporting to Winnipeg training camp in September.

“Super excited to be a Jet. Super honoured,” He said in a video posted on the Jets social media channels. “Can’t wait to see you guys at camp.”

Before that He will report to Niagara IceDogs Training Camp in late August.

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