Getting texts around draft time is standard for all players, but defenseman Kaedan Korczak’s phone was lighting up before the 2019 ceremony in Vancouver. Korczak, who plays for WHL Kelowna, received texts and advice from Shea Weber, Josh Gorges and Damon Severson – all of whom are Rockets alumni. Kelowna is also coached by another former NHL blueliner, Adam Foote, and has been a factory for pro talent for years. “It’s been a huge part of my career,” Korczak said. “Going there at 15, 16, it gave me an opportunity to excel and be in this spot today.”
Growing up in Yorkton, Sask., Korczak was used to living in a small-town prairie environment. Moving to Kelowna, a beautiful spot in B.C. known for its beaches and the Okanagan Lake, took some adjusting at first. “That was a big change,” he said. “But now I’m used to the Kelowna lifestyle, so it’s hard to go back to Saskatchewan.”
Has living in Kelowna made him soft? “A little bit,” he said with a smile. “Honestly, it has.”
You might not see that on the ice, however, as Korczak has dropped the gloves several times in his junior career. He’s also a big fan of San Jose shutdown artist Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and with a 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame, Korczak already has NHL size. Plus, he’s a great skater who moves the puck well, and he was a frequent source of offense for Kelowna in the opening month of 2019-20. If he can work on closing on opponents quicker, the Golden Knights will really have something.
Of course, Vegas didn’t just settle for Korczak with the 41st pick in the 2019 draft – they traded up to get him, sending a later second-rounder plus a third to San Jose. “I knew they were interested towards the end of the season, and at the combine they seemed interested, too,” Korczak said. “It was awesome they traded up to get me. It was pretty cool when they called my name.”
Korczak will also hear his name called at the Memorial Cup, with the Rockets hosting the major junior championship in 2020. – Ryan Kennedy