Kelowna Rockets trade down, grab towering six-foot-six defenceman

Rockets nab hulking d-man

Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton has been busy wheeling and dealing during the early goings of the 2024 Western Hockey League’s priority draft.

Hamilton swung an early deal with the Prince Albert Raiders, trading the fourth overall selection to Prince Albert in exchange for the ninth overall pick, the 57th pick (Round 3) and a fifth round selection in 2025.

He later traded the 38th pick in the second round to Regina in exchange for the Pats second round pick in 2025 and a fourth round selection in 2027.

The second round pick was originally sent to the Rockets as part of a three-way deal with Edmonton and Saskatoon.

Two other deals were completed later in the day. Kelowna sent the 61st selection in the third round to Saskatoon for a 2025 fourth round selection belonging to Everett and a 2027 third rounder belonging to Spokane.

They also obtained a sixth round selection from Lethbridge (113th) for Kelowna's fifth round pick next year.

With the ninth pick, the Rockets nabbed towering six-foot-six defenceman Owen Hayden.

The 15-year-old Calgary native spent last season with the Calgary NWCAA U15 AAA Flame.

In 30 regular season games Hayden registered a goal and 23 assists. The lone goal was shorthanded.

"Owen's a big puck moving defenceman," said Rockets head scout Terry McFaul.

"He's very sound defensively, can be physical and plays with a lot of bite. His skating is getting better and better all the time. He's 6'6 right now, and will probably grow a little bit more. He does a lot of things like another big fellow we had here a few years ago, Tyler Myers."

With their selection in the second round, 33rd overall, the Rockets nabbed left winger Nathan Cole from the Edge School U15 Prep team.

Cole had 14 goals and 30 points in 27 regular season games while adding a goal and seven assists in five post season games.

In all, the Rockets selected 10 players over nine rounds including five forwards, four defencemen and a goaltender.

The remaining selections include:

  • Round 3 (57) Jake Hargrave - defenceman
  • Round 3 (60) Linden Sobocan - goaltender
  • Round 4 (78) William Matte - centre
  • Round 5 (93) Linkin Stadnek - defenceman
  • Round 6 (113) Von Lakovic - forward
  • Round 8 (163) Marek McIvor - defenceman
  • Round 9 (188) Jack Morgan - forward
  • Round 9 (189) Sebastien Briesbois - forward

As expected, the Everett Silvertips used the first overall selection to grab defenceman Landon Dupont.

The Calgary native was granted exceptional status by the WHL meaning he will be able to play full time this coming season as a 15-year-old.

Kelowna Rockets take a pair of centres in U.S. priority draft

Rockets target centres

The Kelowna Rockets put a premium on forwards, specifically centres, during the U.S. priority draft held Wednesday morning.

The Rockets selected 11th and 33rd in the two round draft of 2009-born players residing in the 20 western-most states stretching as far east as Minnesota.

With the 11th pick, the Rockets nabbed Okanagan Hockey Colorado centre Colton Lien.

In 17 games, the six-foot-two, 165-pound Lien scored 10 goals and 24 points in leading the team to the 14U Colorado state Tier 1 championship.

The Rockets then nabbed Drew Larioza with the 33rd overall selection.

A native of San Jose, CA, Larioza had 28 goals and 55 points in 36 games with the San Jose Sharks U14.

This is the fifth year of the U.S. priority draft.

Since its inception only defenceman Jackson Gillespie, taken in the first round of the 2022 draft has cracked the roster.

Forward Kalder Varga, taken seventh overall last year has signed a standard WHL contract and expects to battle for a spot on the roster at camp.

The bantam draft for 2009-born players across Western Canada and those not selected in the U.S. draft will be held tomorrow morning.

The Rockets, who missed out on the chance to select generational defenceman Landon Dupont, will pick fourth in the first round.

They have two picks in both the second (33rd and 38th) and third (60th and 61st) rounds.

Barring any trade day deals, the Rockets will have six of the first 78 selections through the first four rounds.

Kelowna Rocket named WHL humanitarian of the year

Hurley honoured by WHL

Ty Hurley can add humanitarian to the list of accolades he has received since helping to save the life of a man drowning in a hotel pool in Strathmore, Alta. last December.

The 19-year-old Kelowna Rocket was named recipient of the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as the Western Hockey League's Humanitarian of the Year Thursday morning.

The incident happened Dec. 7 as the Rockets were embarking on a five-game Eastern Division road trip.

Seeing a man struggling in the hotel pool, Hurley jumped in the water, pulled the man out and, using training from CPR and lifesaving courses, began chest compressions.

After 15 to 20 compressions, the man began breathing on his own. He stayed with the man until ambulance personnel could arrive.

"I want to give a shout out to my teammates with Kelowna, I love them all, I get to spend every second with them throughout the year,” Hurley said.

“They put a smile on my face every day when I walk into the arena. Lastly, I want to thank my parents, my family, and friends – I wouldn’t be here without them. They have done everything for me throughout my life and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.”

Hurley had previously been awarded the Silver Medal of Merit and the M.G. Griffiths Award by the Livesaving Society, B.C. and Yukon.

Kelowna Rockets defenceman signs NHL entry level contract with Seattle

Price inks deal with Kraken

It's been a busy start to the off season for several members of the Kelowna Rockets.

Tij Iginla has been added to Canada's roster for the World U18 championships in Finland, while Andrew Cristall (Hershey) and Gabriel Szturc (Syracuse) will take part in the American Hockey League playoffs.

You can add defenceman Caden Price to the list.

Price has inked a three-year entry level contract with the Seattle Kraken. Price was selected by the Kraken in the third round of last year's NHL draft.

The contract has an annual average value of $950,000 and a $95,000 signing bonus in each of the three years.

Price is expected to be sent to the Kraken's AHL affiliate in Coachella, CA on an amateur tryout for the balance of the season.

“We are excited for Caden to officially join our organization after a career year in the WHL,” said Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis.

“We’ve been impressed with his progress so far and are looking forward to seeing him continue to develop going forward.”

Price established career highs in goals (13), assists (42), points (55), power play goals (three) and points per game (0.89) this past season.

He had a goal and 10 assists in 11 playoff games.

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