NHL Prospect Profile: Kaeden Korczak

Kaeden Korczak of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets is a sturdy, minute-munching defender, and one of the best eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Kaeden Korczak –

Kelowna Rockets (WHL) | Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Yorkton, Saskatchewan | Jan. 29th, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 195-pounds

The Kelowna Rockets have drafted and developed a number of the NHL’s best defencemen over the years, and have shown no desire to slow down of late.

Throughout their franchise history all of Tyson Barrie, Duncan Keith, Josh Morrissey and Tyler Myers have passed through the Rockets’ program en route to substantial and successful NHL careers. Now, in 2018-19, it is Kaeden Korczak’s time to follow suit.

As one of the best all-around defenders eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, Korczak’s steady play and immense potential have long drawn the eyes of scouts throughout North America. Although he will need to improve particular aspects of his game, Korczak will surely stand as one of his draft class’s top defenders come draft day in Vancouver.

Strengths:

  • Defensive Awareness
  • Intelligence
  • Physicality
  • Mobility

Given the strength of Korczak’s overall approach, let’s take a moment to dissect his play and analyze specific aspects within his growing game.

First and foremost there is Korczak’s play within his defensive zone. Capable of feeling the pressure applied by his opponents and navigating within it, Korczak is calculated in his decision making and is rarely forced into committing turnovers as a result. Well aware of the positioning of his teammates, Korczak thinks the play at a rapid pace as it develops and can execute crisp, accurate breakout passes as result.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Tied directly to Korczak’s intelligent defensive play is the native of Yorkton, Saskatchewan’s raw physicality. Standing 6-foot-3 and 195-pounds, Korczak is an intimidating physical presence despite his young age who utilizes his growing size well. Capable of pinning attacking forwards against the boards before dislodging the puck, Korczak can dominate his opposition with ease and understands when it is necessary to do so.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

Further amplifying Korczak’s strong defending is his skating mobility and agility. Although he would do well to improve his first step and explosiveness, Korczak can traverse the ice well and utilizes his edges well in order to track and smother attacking forwards. It is this impressive skating ability which has come to drive Korczak’s growing offensive game, as the youngster’s mobility allows him to straddle the opposing blue line while generating scoring opportunities in the process.

Weaknesses:

  • Acceleration
  • Shot Penetration

While there aren’t many weaknesses present within Korczak’s game, there are a few.

As mentioned above, Korczak’s foot speed and acceleration would do well to improve in the near future, and especially so before he makes the jump to the professional-level. Although he is a strong skater of excellent mobility, greater first-step strength and acceleration would create a greater gap between Korczak and his opponents on the offensive side of the puck while also affording the young defender with improved closing speed defensively.

Related: Canadian NHL Draft Profiles

In addition to his acceleration and explosiveness, there is Korczak’s shot.

Although of ample velocity, Korczak needs to push the puck through traffic with greater consistency, as doing so would generate a number of rebounds and scoring chances for his team. In order to do so, Korczak will need to shorten the release of his shot and alter the angle of his lane upon release. Once able to pound the puck on goal with authority at even-strength, Korczak’s all-around game will be strengthened even more so through a newfound level of lethality from the point.

Future Potential:

In the long run, Korczak could very well become one of the best defencemen to emerge from the Rockets’ storied developmental program.

While his game isn’t flashy by any means, Korczak is as solid and dependable as defencemen come. A pure minute-munching defender capable of influencing the outcome of any given game at both ends of the ice, Korczak’s stellar physical play paired with his growing offensive talents will ensure he dominates his opposition regardless of their respective skill or creativity.

Ultimately, Korczak projects to develop into a sturdy top-four defenceman at the NHL-level capable of being utilized confidently in a variety of on-ice situations.

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NHL Prospect Profile: Nolan Foote

Nolan Foote is heading into his third WHL season in ’18-19. A powerful, goal-scoring winger, Foote has totalled 32 goals and 75 points in 102 games with the Rockets. Foote appears to be a lock for the 1st round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Nolan Foote –

Kelowna Rockets (WHL) | Left Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Denver, Colorado, USA | November 29, 2000 | 6-foot-3, 187-pounds

Heading into the 2017-18 season, Nolan Foote was regarded has a sure top-3 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft. As a late 2000-born prospect, Foote had already played his rookie season as one of the youngest players in the WHL, racking up 19 goals and 35 points in 52 games. His electric shot and understanding of the game were extremely impressive as a 16-year-old.

However, after putting up 13 goals and 40 points in his sophomore season, the hype surrounding Foote has substantially quieted. As a result of Foote’s failure to make major increases in his numbers in ’17-18, the projections of his NHL future vary greatly. Of course, this coming season will serve as a major measuring stick for his draft stock.

Strengths:

  • Hockey Sense
  • Shot
  • Competitiveness

Nolan Foote has tremendous size and strength, which played a huge role in allowing him to seamlessly adapt to the WHL in his rookie season. Foote has an excellent sense of the game, reading developing plays and reacting appropriately. His greatest strength comes from his shot, which is quick, powerful, and accurate. Foote came into the league as a shoot-first player, but seemed to shy away from that in ’17-18.

In his sophomore year, Foote’s shooting percentage sat at 10%, a fairly average number which exhibits that he could still be shooting more often. Foote is also a highly competitive player with a motor that rarely slows down. He battles hard for loose pucks and isn’t afraid to use his body in board battles. Further, Foote has above average hands and can make one-on-one moves in tight with the puck.

Weaknesses:

  • Skating

Of all the traits which could potentially hamper Foote’s progression towards the NHL, it would be his average skating abilities. It isn’t necessarily a weakness, but Foote could certainly add some more speed and agility to his game. This would allow him to rush the puck with more success and be able to handle the puck better at top speeds.

For now, Foote generally finds his success as the trigger-man off of the half wall. A more effective stride would enable Foote to add another element to his game, as well as to improve his 200-foot game. This will be an aware that scouts will key in on during the 2018-19 season as they predict his potential at the NHL level.

Future Potential:

Nolan Foote projects to be a top-six winger at the NHL level. While his goal-scoring ability and overall offensive potential remain intriguing, his skating definitely needs improvement in order to become an effective professional player. Foote plays a comparable game to Jake DeBrusk of the Boston Bruins. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Foote looks like a Top-20 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.