Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, Riley McKay didn’t get a chance to close out his final season of junior hockey with one last playoff run but it appears the scouts had already seen enough.
The forward from Swan River, Man., has signed his first professional contract, inking a one-year entry-level deal with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
The IceHogs are the AHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, whose rookie camp McKay attended as a free agent invitee in 2019.
McKay spent the last two seasons of his junior career with the Saskatoon Blades, winning the team’s Fan’s Choice award both years.
The gritty left-winger tallied 31 goals and 65 points in 130 games as a Blade, showing some scoring touch to go with the trademark toughness that saw him pile up 517 penalty minutes over the course of 243 games in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
The 21-year-old posted career highs with 19 goals and 19 assists during the 2019-20 campaign, which was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled outright.
McKay began his WHL career with the Spokane Chiefs before being acquired by Saskatoon in a trade on July 12, 2018. He served as one of the Blades’ assistant captains in 2019-20.
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