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'I'll make him proud': Area hockey star inks first NHL contract

Denver Barkey lands entry-level deal with Philadelphia Flyers after big year in OHL

Working to make it to the NHL, Newmarket and OHL hockey star Denver Barkey said his grandfather was a big supporter.

Randy Legge, who had a 12-game stint in the NHL at the top of his pro hockey career, was very invested in his grandson's career, Barkey said.

Legge passed away in December. It was a tough blow, Barkey said, but he continues following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

“He was a big fan of me,” Barkey explained. “To be able to just talk to him about his days when he played pro hockey … Whenever the day comes I play my first NHL game, I’ll make him proud.”

That first game is a step closer, with Barkey signing his first-ever NHL contract March 4. Amid a successful season with the OHL’s London Knights, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Barkey to a three-year, NHL entry-level contract, worth  $2.85 million US. This comes after the Flyers drafted him in the third round of the NHL entry draft in 2023, 95th overall.

Barkey said it was a relief to put pen to paper.

“It was a super big accomplishment of mine to be able to spend that time, share that with all my family and friends that have been there along the way,” he said. “This has taken a lot of hard work.” 

But he said the team expressed interest after Barkey’s big year in the OHL. With his London Knights atop the league heading into the last weekend of the regular season, Barkey leads his team in scoring, with 33 goals and 98 points in 62 games.

“I wanted to have a big impact on the team this year,” Barkey said. “Just be ready for the opportunity, that I was going to be given. I knew I was going to have a lot of opportunity this year, being an older guy in London.” 

With the regular season wrapping up, Barkey and the London Knights will begin a playoff drive. They will hope for a better result than last season when they fell to the Peterborough Petes in the OHL finals. 

"We have a bit of a bitter taste left in our mouths from losing last year in the finals," Barkey said. "If we get back to that position, we’d like to win this year.” 

After this season, Barkey could get his chance to go pro next year. But he said he is not getting too far ahead of himself.

“It’s a big step to go pro,” he said. “I'm going to try to have another big summer ... Just taking it day-by-day, not really focusing on next year too much. Just trying to continue to improve myself, improve my game day by day, and it will all fall in place.” 


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Joseph Quigley

About the Author: Joseph Quigley

Joseph is the municipal reporter for NewmarketToday.
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