Kaedan Korczak

KELOWNA, CANADA - JANUARY 25: Kaedan Korczak #6 of the Kelowna Rockets skates against the Victoria Royals on January 25, 2019 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)

If Kaedan Korczak were a betting man, you might catch him placing a friendly wager on Vegas.

There are a few things preventing him from doing that, however. First, he’s only 18 years old and isn’t allowed to gamble in the U.S. Second, he just wrote his Christian Ethics exam.

Besides, does it matter what NHL team takes you?

Korczak is in Vancouver today as one of seven Rockets eligible for the pro draft.

The six-foot-three, 192-pound defenceman said he has a few nerves heading into the weekend.

“A little bit,” he said. “It’s kind of weird, these next couple of days will (decide) where my future is. That’s kind of weird to think about. But it’s been fun, actually.”

The real fun is just starting, too.

Korczak, his fellow Rockets—and the rest of the WHL eligible draftees—were to attend a special dinner this weekend. Korczak is also attending another special event hosted by his agents.

Not to mention, he’s in Vancouver with roughly 30 family and friends.

They’re there to cheer him on and congratulate him on what signals the next phase of his hockey career. The draft is sold out, so you can bet they’re excited to be in Rogers Arena at all.

“They booked early,” Korczak said.

NHL Central Scouting has Korczak labelled as No. 32 among North American skaters, which will put him in that mid-second round territory.

Not only does he have NHL size, he’s progressing just the way scouts like to see. The Yorkton, Sask., native scored three goals and 13 assists his rookie season, and doubled his point total to four goals and 29 assists this past year. It got him an invitation to the World Under-18 Championships where he played a vital role for Canada.

When at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, N.Y., a couple of weeks ago, Korczak said he enjoyed his pre-draft interview with the Vegas Golden Knights most of all.

He met with Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon and his scouting staff.

“They just liked how I played,” said Korczak. “They gave me compliments and stuff I need to work on. I think I can say that they like the way I play and like me as a player.”

Vegas has pick No. 48 on Saturday, almost exactly midway through the second round. Of note is who selects 46th, however: the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs already have a Kelowna Rockets graduate in defenceman Shea Weber.

Could Weber have any influence in swaying Montreal’s leadership into taking Korcazk (if he’s still available)? It’s not out of the question given Weber has taken on something of a mentor’s role in their relationship.

Korcazk’s Kelowna billets know Weber, and put the two in touch. It was out of the blue last summer that Korczak received a text message from an unknown number. All his phone said was, “Maybe: Shea Weber.”

“I thought someone was pulling a prank on me,” Korcazk told NHL.com earlier this year.

Weber, who was ranked 42nd and was drafted by the Nashville Predators at No. 49 in 2003, had some simple advice for Korczak.

“We’ve talked a couple of times,” Korczak said. “He just said to enjoy it because it only happens once, and he’s actually going to be (in Vancouver) so it’ll be nice to see him.”

This is sure to be a whirlwind weekend for Korczak, who rushed to complete his assignments to graduate high school before the draft. He wrote that Christian ethics exam on Tuesday along with his English final.

It will likely be the furthest thing from his mind on Saturday morning. Once he’s drafted, he’ll likely return to the Kelowna Rockets this fall and help the squad push for a Memorial Cup as host.

Again, that’s nothing new to that guy named Weber, who won it all when Kelowna last hosted the Memorial Cup in 2004.

“Obviously in your draft year there’s a lot that goes on,” Weber told NHL.com. “I just told him to block all the extra stuff out, excess stuff, and play your game and everything will work itself out. The team will be successful and that’ll translate to his success.”

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This story appeared on page B1 of The Daily Courier's on June 21, 2019, edition.