Younger Draper eager to follow in dad's footsteps with Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There was a real chance this was going to happen, and Kris Draper wanted to make sure it was the right and correct piece of business.

Just before the second day of the NHL Entry Draft on Oct. 7, some names of possible picks were thrown around and one in particular was familiar.

Kienan Draper, the son of former Wings star and current director of amateur scouting.

“As you start talking about these players, I want to hear our area scouts start talking about names, and Kienan’s name came up,” Kris Draper said after the draft ended.

“Then it just felt like it was the right pick for our organization. That’s how it really came about. Obviously, I’m super proud, very excited, but my job is to draft prospects that I feel are going to be a part of the Detroit Red Wings organization going forward.”

Back in 2011, Kris Draper drops the puck for his son Kienan, who is 8 years old at the time, during a morning skate.

Kienan Draper, who is as Detroit-bred hockey as they come, became the Wings’ seventh-round selection with 187th overall pick.

This is a kid who grew up playing and practicing around local rinks, played through the Little Caesars program, was around Joe Louis Arena while his father was on the Wings, and now skates and works out at BELFOR Training Center at Little Caesars Arena.

Kienan is currently in western Canada playing for Chilliwack in the British Columbia Hockey League, and was camped near his laptop the second day of the draft.

At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Kienan is basically his dad’s size already, and he’s shown the offensive potential that Kris did not have.

Kienan had 26 goals in 56 games at St. Andrew’s last year, and had 27 goals for the Little Caesars 16U AAA team the year before.

In five games thus far in Chilliwack, Draper has four goals and one assist.

Subscription: Ted Kulfan projects Red Wings' line combinations for next season

Father and son talked about the possibility of being drafted by the Wings. When Kienan finally got word it happened, the chance he now has, he’s determined to do something with it.

“I’m very driven,” said Kienan, who’ll play at Miami (Ohio) next year. “I want to make it a reality to be able to put that sweater on and wear the winged wheel. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was 4 or 5 years old.

“So, now that step one has been done and completed, I’m ready to keep working hard and make it come true.”

The entire scenario of Draper drafting Draper was discussed and analyzed by general manager Steve Yzerman and Kris Draper.

There have been numerous other instances, either in the NHL or other pro sports leagues, of sons getting drafted by teams their fathers were part of, worked for or played on.

It can be a ticklish situation.

“A couple of scouts, one in Ontario who followed Kienan at St. Andrew’s College (in Aurora, Ontario) last year and one of our scouts in the West who was following him in Chilliwack, they were pushing pretty hard (to draft Draper),” Yzerman said. “Kris and I had a brief conversation about it recently and initially I said, ‘Are you sure you want to put your son in that position?’

“Then, ultimately, my answer to him was, ‘Your obligation is to do whatever is the right thing for the Detroit Red Wings and I trust your judgement.’ And I know that he did that.”

To that end, Kienan Draper was on the Wings’ draft board as a possible player to be selected. And given the Red Wings’ rebuild, the competitiveness of the NHL and how valuable every pick is, not one draft selection is taken lightly.

“None of them (scouts) are going to pick a name just because it’s somebody’s son or friend,” Yzerman said. “Jobs are on the line.”

The way Kienan has developed and progressed in recent years was a key reason why he was drafted.

“I’m proud of him, I’m proud of the work that he’s put in,” Kris Draper said. “I believe in Kienan, and just as importantly, guys on our staff that believed in him as well. That’s how we ended up making that selection.

“He’s continued to get better. He earned his position on our draft list by continuing to get better.”

Watching how his dad worked throughout his NHL career, and now in the front office, has inspired Kienan.

“As a hockey player, I see his work ethic,” Kienan said. “Even after his career, he still works so hard at everything he does. During his career, just seeing what type of person he was, he always had time for fans, and was just a hard worker on the ice and a great teammate.

“I learned a lot from him over the years and through other teammates he had.”

The Kienan Draper File

Pick: No. 187 overall (Round 7)

Position: Right wing

Height/weight: 6-foot-1/185 pounds

Last season: St. Andrew’s College (Ontario) — 56 games, 26 goals, 25 assists

On NHL mentor Dylan Larkin: “I've been able to speak with him a lot over the years since he's become a Wing. Seeing how hard he works and how good of a player he is, it's just been very good for me to see as I've developed more."

Twitter: @tkulfan