Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25: Kaedan Korczak on track to become reliable NHL defenseman
The promising 20-year-old defenseman moves up five spots to No. 9.
Knights On Ice’s 2020-21 preseason Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the top 25 players under the age of 25 currently in Vegas’ system. The KOI staff members created their own Top 25 Under 25 ballots. Each individual writer’s ballot was then used to generate a composite score that formed the final rankings.
The Vegas Golden Knights drafted Kaedan Korczak in the second round (No. 41) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, one round after selecting Peyton Krebs. The Knights notably took a chance on Krebs, who could have been a top-10 selection but fell in the draft due to an Achilles injury.
But Vegas also demonstrated confidence in Korczak by trading up in order to draft him, sending the No. 48 and No. 82 picks to the rival San Jose Sharks to secure their target.
Recently, Korczak and Krebs helped Canada win a silver medal at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships, and both remain top prospects in the Vegas pipeline.
The Knights signed Korczak to an entry-level contract in December, 2019. He’s one of several strong defensive prospects in the Vegas system, but he ranks third among rearguards in these rankings thanks to a five-spot jump.
No. 9: Kaedan Korczak
- Age: 20
- Position: Defense
- Currently playing: Henderson Silver Knights
- Nationality: Canadian/
Korczak has seen increases in production year after year in his time with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
In 2017-18, he managed three goals and 16 points in 67 games, but he more than doubled that output in his draft year, finishing the season with 33 points in 68 games.
The Yorktown, Saskatchewan native went on to record 11 goals and 49 points in eight fewer games in 2019-20.
His progression has not gone unnoticed, but it has been a choppy year for the right-shot defenseman.
As a result of the uncertainty surrounding plans for the WHL season, Korczak was allowed to begin this season with the Henderson Silver Knights; he recorded two assists and a plus-6 rating in nine games.
Korczak was technically ineligible to play in the AHL, as the agreement between the NHL and Canadian Hockey League (which includes the WHL) stipulates that CHL players are only eligible to play in the professional minor leagues (i.e., AHL, ECHL) if they turn 20 by Dec. 31 of that season. Korczak turned 20 on Jan. 29 of this year.
This necessitated his reassignment to Kelowna in March once the WHL finalized plans for a 24-game season. Korczak played in 15 of them, notching three goals and eight points in that span. He was named a WHL All-Star for the B.C. Division.
The Western Hockey League has named the B.C. Division All-Star team for the 2020-21 season. #WHLAwards— The WHL (@TheWHL) May 31, 2021
DETAILS 📰 | https://t.co/mcmPKtRnMN pic.twitter.com/gQfr0j6zin
Korczak was recalled to Henderson in mid-May and played the final two games of the regular season as well as all five postseason games with the Silver Knights. He scored a key game-tying goal in the third period of Game 3 of the Pacific Division Final, but the Silver Knights fell to Bakersfield after surrendering a goal later in the frame.
Korczak finished his first professional season with two assists and a plus-9 rating in 11 games. Despite the modest numbers, Korczak made an impression.
Labeled a defensive defenseman at the time of the draft, Korczak has steadily improved all facets of his game, and it showed in his stint with Henderson.
He uses his 6-foot-4, 194-pound frame effectively in the defensive end, challenging opposing players on zone entries and playing with a physical edge. His surprisingly impressive skating allows him to maintain solid gap control, move efficiently along the blue line and jump into plays when necessary. He has a booming shot, makes a strong first pass and possesses legitimate offensive upside.
Korczak aims to develop into more of a two-way defenseman, though it’s more likely he’ll land closer to a Brayden McNabb-type player given his defensive play and physicality. The combination of his size, skating, defensive awareness and overall mobility make him an intriguing prospect for the Golden Knights.
Ironically, after the draft, Korczak said he models his game after Alex Pietrangelo; just a few years later, Korczak is significantly closer to playing alongside that very player, who could be a profound mentor for the young blueliner.
Korczak was recalled to Vegas’ taxi squad in early June, so he’ll have a front-row seat as Pietrangelo and the Knights compete for the Stanley Cup. Korczak is not expected to see any game action, but being a Black Ace should serve as great experience, particularly as he transitions to professional hockey full-time.
His development will require at least a year in the AHL to further refine his game, but all signs point towards Korczak having a bright future in the NHL.
Previously in the Golden Knights Top 25 Under 25 2020-21 Series:
Honorable mention: Layton Ahac
No. 25: Jonas Rondbjerg
No. 24: Jake Leschyshyn
No. 23: Paul Cotter
No. 22: Keegan Kolesar
No. 21: Ben Jones
No. 20: Marcus Kallionkieli
No. 19: Lukas Cormier
No. 18: Pavel Dorofeyev
No. 17: Brandon Kruse
No. 16: Peter DeLiberatore
No. 15: Connor Corcoran
No. 14: Ivan Morozov
No. 13: Isaiah Saville
No. 12: Jiri Patera
No. 11: Brendan Brisson
No. 10: Dylan Coghlan