– 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.
- Defensive Awareness
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.
- 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.
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.