When Nolan Foote steps on to the ice Friday in Kamloops, the final piece of the Kelowna Rockets Memorial Cup puzzle will be in place.
That is the case until Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton and his team decide what they may or may not need as they get a little further into their season.
Last week, prior to opening the season with a dramatic overtime win against the Spokane Chiefs, Hamilton admitted they would take a wait and see approach.
“We’ll get into 20 games here and see where we are at. We’ll know what we need to add and delete,” Hamilton said.
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As a player, Foote brings a lot to the table, according to new Rockets assistant coach Vern Fiddler.
“Obviously he’s an offensive threat every time he is on the ice but there are also other intangibles that he also brings,” Fiddler said.
Foote is returning to the Rockets after his first NHL training camp. He was picked in the first round draft this summer by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Coming back here, I think we are going to ask him to be a bit more of a leader, bring a little bit more offence and be a little bit of a harder guy to play against than last year,” Fiddler said,
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For Foote, coming back to Kelowna, which is hosting the Memorial Cup this season, is an exciting prospect.
“It’s good to be back,” he said ahead of three games in three nights. “It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be good for the team and I am excited to see the chemistry with the guys.”
After spending three weeks at an NHL camp with his older brother and Rockets alum Cal Foote, Nolan is eager to put into practice what he learned from his time in Tampa Bay.
“They work as hard as they can every single practice. They try out everything they can do and try and get better every day even though they are the top guys in the NHL, so you just learn a lot from them,” Foote said.
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Last year, the Denver, Colorado native notched 36 goals and 27 assists for the Rockets.
And once again this year, the Kelowna Rockets will look to the man they call ‘Goalin’ Nolan’ to produce big numbers offensively.
“There is no question that with his size and his skill he should be one of the top players in the league,” Fiddler said.
Nolan Foote will step back into the fold for the Kelowna Rockets on Friday night in Kamloops as they take on the Blazers for the first time in the 2019/20 season.