Kevin Korchinski Stepped Up During the 2021-22 Season, Taking His Game to the Next Level Ahead of the NHL Draft
By Jonathan Yue via Hockey Canada
Kevin Korchinski always believed he had the offensive skill to make a difference on the ice. The defenceman elevated his play this season, leading all Western Hockey League (WHL) rookie blue-liners in points (65) and positioning himself as the highest-ranked Canadian defenceman heading into 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal.
With his strong puck-moving abilities and two-way play, the No. 7-rated North American skater hopes his hard work pays off when he hears his name called.
“Knowing that I have the opportunity to get drafted and having gone through the process, my goal is to play in the NHL,” says Korchinski. “Anything can happen, but I’ve been able to enjoy the process this whole year and I’m looking forward to it.”
Throughout his burgeoning hockey career, Korchinski has showcased his abilities to be an offensive presence on the ice. During the 2018-19 season, he led the Saskatoon Generals (U15 AA) in assists (37), led Generals defencemen in scoring and finished third on the team.
Korchinski’s performance led the Saskatoon defenceman to be selected 10th overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2019 WHL Prospects Draft. After getting a taste of the WHL during the 2020-21 season, when he registered 10 assists in 23 games during the pandemic-shortened campaign, Korchinski took the summer to work on his strength and skating, and it paid off.
“Playing that offensive role early on in my career really molded my game to what it is now,” says Korchinski. “My confidence in my abilities and skill, I’ve always been that type of player. I knew I’ve always had it in me to play that game.”
He also earned the trust of the Thunderbirds’ coaching staff, getting the opportunity to run the point on the power play. His 28 assists with the man advantage ranked fifth in the WHL, and Seattle finished with the ninth-best power play in the league.
“Being a year older, I also got to play a bigger role,” Korchinski says. “My relationship with all three of the coaches in Seattle are awesome. They trust me in all situations and that trust really helps me as a hockey player and instilled confidence in my abilities. On the power play, I made use of that time, making sure I was ready so that when the opportunity came, I’d be ready to seize it.”
In the lead-up to the draft, the 17-year-old has been enjoying the process. Korchinski is happy his offensive talents are being noticed on the ice, but also hopes to gain more confidence in his shot heading into next season, adding to his vision to set up his teammates on the ice.
He describes himself as a competitor, wants to contribute to the team’s success – the Thunderbirds reached the WHL final this season, falling in six games to the Edmonton Oil Kings – and hopes to continue to take that next step forward in his career.
“The team that’s drafting me will be getting a hard worker,” Korchinski says. “On the ice, I’m a defenceman that loves to join in on the rush and fuel the transition game. I’ve always valued hard work, valued commitment in whatever I do, and I’ve always been able to take it over the top with my competitiveness.”
With the junior season in the books, pre-draft interviews completed and his ticket booked for Montreal, Korchinski is ready to soak up the experience of the NHL Draft and see where the next step of his career takes him.
“The draft is just the start of that and it’s a huge honour to hear my name called.”