Much has been made of the New York Rangers’ 2018 NHL draft. The team came away with 10 players in seven rounds, including an eye-popping three first-round picks. With a haul like that, it might be easy for a prospect to get lost in the shuffle – but that’s something that Joey Keane, the 88th overall selection, refuses to do.
Growing up in Homer Glen, Illinois, Keane was one of four brothers (Thomas, Gerard and Jack) who were part of a period of unprecedented growth in youth hockey in Illinois, coinciding with the ascent of the Chicago Blackhawks as three-time Stanley Cup champions.
The Keane brothers played their youth hockey with the Chicago Mission program. Joey put up very strong numbers, ultimately leading him to be drafted in the 5th round by the Barrie Colts in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. In 2016, Keane moved to Dubuque, Iowa to play for the USHL’s Fighting Saints – as one of the youngest players in the league.
Then came decision time. Though committed to play hockey at Miami University in Ohio, Keane chose to forgo the NCAA and join the Barrie Colts.
“I’d heard nothing but good things about the OHL,” he said, “and I knew it provided a more pro atmosphere and pro-style game that would better prepare me for the National Hockey League.”
In his first OHL season, Keane produced 19 points (1 goal, 18 assists) in 67 games. He was named an assistant captain in 2017-18 and promptly emerged as an offensive threat, with 44 points (12 G, 32 A) in 62 games, as well as 7 points in 12 playoff games for the Colts.
His strong season led to him being drafted in the 3rd round by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL Draft.
“It was a really exciting time for the family. I was really happy, and my parents were really proud,” said Keane. “Then, getting the chance to play in the preseason game at Madison Square Garden … I couldn’t ask for a better organization to get drafted by.”
Keane returned to Barrie for a third season in 2018-19, and he was well on his way to establishing career highs before being part of a midseason trade to the Knights. All he’s done since is play around point-per-game hockey with London, opening more eyes on a talented blue line, and helping the Knights gear up for a Memorial Cup run in 2019.
In London, Joey has joined his younger brother, Gerard, who came to the Knights last summer as a 16-year-old rookie. The brothers are living together, sharing a billet house, and supporting each other on and off the ice.
“I feel like I can help his transition into the league as he plays alongside me and guys like [Evan] Bouchard and [Adam] Boqvist,” said Joey of his younger sibling. “And he has helped my transition to London, as well, just bringing a sense of familiarity and comfort.”
Having already played in three OHL seasons, as well as nearly cracking the lineup of the U20 United States national team for the World Junior Championship, Keane (who will turn 20 this July) is expected to push for an extended look from the Rangers next season.
Wherever he plays, one thing is for sure: no one is overlooking Joey Keane anymore.
By Connor Loucks and Fraser Weir and photos by Terry Wilson/OHL Images