SEATTLE (AP) — Whether he develops into a star or never plays a game at the highest level, Luke Henman will forever have a place in the history of the Seattle Kraken.
The 21-year-old center became the first player ever signed by the Kraken on Wednesday when he inked a three-year entry-level contract with the expansion NHL club, which is set to begin its first season this fall.
Henman is currently with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. He will complete the season with the Armada — who are currently in the playoffs — before joining Seattle for its rookie training camp later this year.
“When you play hockey as a kid growing up, your dream is to sign an NHL entry-level deal and today is one of the best days of my life and I’m going to remember it forever,” Henman said. “I’m just kind of trying to enjoy and focus on that.”
For now — and at least until the expansion draft this summer — Henman is the face of the Kraken on the ice. He brings a strong pedigree after playing the past five seasons for Blainville-Boisbriand, including the past two seasons as captain of the Armada.
Henman had a team-high 43 points in 32 games for the Armada this season, including 16 goals and 27 assists. He has scored six goals in eight playoff games this season.
Kraken general manager Ron Francis said Henman was the scouting staff's clear choice to target for the team's first signing, and the decision went beyond his productivity on the ice.
“To me, character is a big part of who you want in your organization. It’s always easy when things are going well but when things are tough, it’s the guys with the character that are able to pull you out of those tough situations,” Francis said. “Everybody we’ve talked to and checked out in regards to Luke's character was outstanding, and the fact that he was a captain for a couple of years, his leadership skills sort of bear that out. That was a big part of our decision making.”
Henman was originally a fourth-round pick by Carolina in the 2018 NHL draft. He was not offered an entry-level contract by the Hurricanes after the 2020 season and returned to Blainville-Boisbriand.
“I just put my nose down, went to work, came to camp here with the right attitude and didn’t have the ‘poor me’ mindset,” Henman said. “I had the mindset that I have to go out and prove people wrong. It’s just an extremely exciting day for me and my family and I couldn’t be more thrilled."
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