From backyard rink to U of M: Kris Draper’s son continues family legacy in hockey

Kienan Draper is a freshman forward on the University of Michigan hockey team

DETROIT – Kris Draper is a Detroit Red Wings legend. He’s a significant part of some of the best moments in the franchise’s history, and it’s always fun to reminisce.

“Winning in 1997 after so many tough losses, then go back to back in ‘98, that was an emotional win, and no one will ever forget when Stevie gave the cup to Vladdy,” said Kris Draper. “Then in ‘02 and winning again in ‘08.”

Draper’s son, Kienan, was only five months old when the Wings won in 2002, but he fondly remembers the team winning the cup in 2008.

“I remember game six in Pittsburgh,” said Kienan Draper. “I was heckled for wearing my Red Wings jersey. Then, after they won, I got to go on the ice and in the locker room with my dad and pour Gatorade on his head while he was celebrating. It was a pretty cool moment and something I will never forget.”

Kris knew then that Kienan had the same passion for the game that he did, and it became something father and son shared.

“Once he started playing, he loved it,” Kris said of Kienan. “He would come to the Joe with me, and he’d go out on the ice.”

Kienan said his dad was a major factor in playing the game, obviously, but it’s also in the Draper blood as his dad’s dad also played at Michigan Tech and went pro for a few years.

We met Kienan 10 years ago when we were doing a story on the family’s backyard rink leading up to the Winter Classic. Back then, we saw the star power.

Kienan’s hockey journey took him from his backyard to the local Little Caesar’s team to St. Andrews College for his senior year of high school. Then, he played in Omaha, the USHL during the COVID year, and finally to British Columbia.

Currently, he’s a freshman forward on the University of Michigan hockey team.

“We’ve had a great season so far,” Kienan said. “I’m really enjoying my time here. “I feel lucky to be a part of this team.”

“On the ice, he’s super physical,” said Michigan Coach Brandon Naurato. “He’s been playing a lot of center recently. He’s a shutdown guy with an offensive skill set.

Currently, Kienan wears Maize and Blue, but hopefully, it will soon be Red and White. Kienan was picked in the seventh round by the Red Wings in 2020. His dad made the announcement in the draft.

That was my first draft with my job,” Kris said of his role as Director of Amateur scouting for the Red Wings. “We have a scout in Ontario. Kienan was on our list as a possible late seventh-round pick. It was an incredible moment to call my son’s name and a highlight of my job to bring him into an organization that means so much to me and to Kienan.”

At ‘6,0″ and 183 pounds, Kienan is a little bigger than dad, but he knows nothing will be handed to him. He has to work if he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps to the National Hockey League.

Jamie Edmonds: “It’s the same name on the back of the jersey. How are you different from your dad on the ice?”

Kienan: “The biggest thing my grandpa would say is that I am a right-handed shot. I’m the first one in the family. I am also hard-working and full of compete. I’m loving the battle.”

The fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines wrap up the regular season with two games against Notre Dame this weekend.

About the Author:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.