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Kelowna Rockets lead WHL at NHL Draft with 4 players selected

Rockets' Kaedan Korczak was drafted 41st overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. .
Rockets' Kaedan Korczak was drafted 41st overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. . Marissa Baecker / Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets had more players drafted at this year’s NHL Draft than any other WHL club.

After forwards Lassi Thomson and Nolan Foote were selected in the first round on Friday, two more Rockets were picked in the second round on Saturday to bring the total number of Rockets players drafted in 2019 to four.

READ MORE: Handful of Kelowna Rockets could be selected in this weekend’s NHL draft in Vancouver

Rockets’ defenceman Kaedan Korczak was picked by the Vegas Golden Knights 41st overall, while forward Dillon Hamaliuk was picked 55th overall by the San Jose Sharks.

Korczak told reporters at a draft press conference that the experience had been surreal and credited his time with the Rockets with contributing to his success.

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“Going there when I was 15, 16 it gave me an opportunity to excel and be in this spot today,” Korczak said.

Watch: Highlights of the Canucks’ picks at the NHL Draft
Highlights of the Canucks’ picks at the NHL Draft
Highlights of the Canucks’ picks at the NHL Draft

The Golden Knights swapped picks with the Sharks in order to jump up the draft order and ensure they could select the 18-year-old Rockets defenceman, who the Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton predicted would go late in the first round or early in the second round.

“I knew [the Golden Knights] were kind of interested towards the end of the season, at the combine they seemed pretty interested. They had later picks so I wasn’t sure if I was going to be there or not,” said Korczak.
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“Obviously, getting traded up for is pretty cool.”

Hamaliuk wasn’t at the draft but said learning he had been picked by San Jose was “a dream come true.”

“I wasn’t sure where I was going to be picked, but what a feeling when I learned of the news,” Hamaliuk said.

READ MORE: Canucks acquire more fresh blood, make controversial trade on second day of NHL draft

The Rockets only recently acquired Hamaliuk in a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds in May.

Overall, 28 WHL players heard their names called at the 2019 NHL Draft.

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