(Photo credit: Thomson, Foote, Korczak – Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets / Hamaliuk – Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)
A banner year for the Kelowna Rockets has become even more impressive.
After being chosen as hosts of the 2020 Memorial Cup earlier this year, the Rockets made headlines again at the 2019 NHL Draft in leading all Canadian Hockey League clubs with four players selected.
Leading the way was blue-liner Lassi Thomson, a first-round selection by the Ottawa Senators at 19th overall. This season, the Finnish defencemen excelled in his first year in North America as he led all Kelowna rearguards with 41 points in 63 appearances, earning him a spot on the WHL Western Conference Second All-Star Team.
Eight picks later, another Rockets skater was off the board when the Tampa Bay Lightning chose forward Nolan Foote with the 27th pick. Foote is the son of Rockets head coach and former NHL defenceman Adam Foote, while his selection to Tampa Bay also reunites him with brother and fellow Rockets alumni Cal Foote, who was drafted 14th overall by the Lightning in 2017. This season, the younger Foote finished second in Rockets scoring with 63 points in 66 games.
“Playing alongside Cal one day will be really cool,” Foote said. “Playing junior together, it’s crazy to now be together in the same NHL organization. We thought it would be cool, but now it’s real and I can’t wait to celebrate with him.”
On Day 2 of the draft, the Rockets once again saw a pair of early selections, beginning with blue-liner Kaedan Korczak, who went 41st overall to the Vegas Golden Knights. Korczak completed his first full season with the Rockets in 2018-19, tallying 33 points in 68 games, a performance which came on the heels of his gold medal win with Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Alongside Thomson and Foote, he was also a participant in the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Wrapping up the Rockets selections was forward Dillon Hamaliuk, who went 55th overall to the San Jose Sharks. Hamaliuk, who spent last season with the Seattle Thunderbirds before being acquired by the Rockets last month, was limited to 31 games but came just shy of a point-per-game pace as he put up 11 goals and 15 assists.
In all, 28 players from the WHL were selected in the 2019 NHL Draft.
WHL players selected in 2019 NHL Draft:
Overall Selection, Player, CHL Team, NHL Team
3. Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades) – Chicago Blackhawks
4. Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants) – Colorado Avalanche
7. Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) – Buffalo Sabres
17. Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg ICE) – Vegas Golden Knights
19. Lassi Thomson (Kelowna Rockets) – Ottawa Senators
27. Nolan Foote (Kelowna Rockets) – Tampa Bay Lightning
29. Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) – Anaheim Ducks
37. Mads Sogaard (Medicine Hat Tigers) – Ottawa Senators
41. Kaedan Korczak (Kelowna Rockets) – Vegas Golden Knights
49. Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings) – New York Rangers
55. Dillon Hamaliuk (Kelowna Rockets) – San Jose Sharks
56. Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders) – Washington Capitals
69. John Ludvig (Portland Winterhawks) – Florida Panthers
75. Adam Beckman (Spokane Chiefs) – Minnesota Wild
77. Gianni Fairbrother (Everett Silvertips) – Montreal Canadiens
91. Aliaksei Protas (Prince Albert Raiders) – Washington Capitals
125. Mark Kastelic (Calgary Hitmen) – Ottawa Senators
133. Carson Focht (Calgary Hitmen) – Vancouver Canucks
136. Henrik Rybinski (Seattle Thunderbirds) – Florida Panthers
140. Sasha Mutala (Tri-City Americans) – Colorado Avalanche
147. Reece Newkirk (Portland Winterhawks) – New York Islanders
169. Roddy Ross (Seattle Thunderbirds) – Philadelphia Flyers
171. Luka Burzan (Brandon Wheat Kings) – Colorado Avalanche
182. Quinn Schmiemann (Kamloops Blazers) – Tampa Bay Lightning
194. Cole Moberg (Prince George Cougars) – Chicago Blackhawks
199. Matthew Wedman (Seattle Thunderbirds) – Florida Panthers
202. Trent Miner (Vancouver Giants) – Colorado Avalanche
214. Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips) – Calgary Flames