2021-22 Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Date of Birth: June 21, 2004
Place of Birth: Saskatoon, SK, CAN
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 185 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 20th (amongst NA skaters)
- FC Hockey: 7th
- Recruit Scouting: 31st
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 26th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 24th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 24th
- Smaht Scouting: 27th
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 25th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: Honorable Mention (50+)
Kevin Korchinski’s rise up the 2022 NHL Entry Draft board has been nothing short of meteoric.
The 17-year-old defenseman is in the midst of a stellar year with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Seattle Thunderbirds, and has impressed scouts and pundits so much, he’s — almost stealthily — climbed every draft board throughout the season. He’s even snuck into the top 10 in some of the most recent rankings to be released.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
It’s easy to see why. This season with the Thunderbirds, the Saskatoon, SK native has recorded 61 assists, earning the WHL’s award for most assists by a rookie — building on his 2020-21 campaign in which he notched 10 helpers in 23 games. His skating ability has improved so drastically over the past season that some have now tabbed him as the best skater in the draft class, making a case to potentially become the first defenseman to be selected.
Korchinski has helped Seattle reach the playoffs this season, and it kicks off its postseason slate against the Kelowna Rockets as the fourth seed on April 21. His aforementioned 61 assists are third-best in the entire WHL, while his plus-36 rating is 20th-best.
Korchinski’s explosion onto the scene may raise some eyebrows, but a look at his development indicates it probably shouldn’t have taken scouts by surprise. In two seasons in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League U18 (SMAAAHL) with the Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA team — in 2018-19 and 2019-20 — the Canadian blue liner recorded a combined 73 points (17 goals and 56 assists) in 72 games.
Once he found his footing in the WHL, all bets were off. As mentioned earlier, Korchinski’s first major honor (but almost certainly not his last) was realized this season in Seattle, as he recorded the most assists among all rookies.
Korchinski offers a huge upside, considering his 6-foot-2 frame that he’s yet to completely grow into. He’s known for an incredibly smooth skating ability, complete with quality edge work, while also possessing superb vision and puck handling. He’s quick, confident, and competitive, and these were already attributes that were attractive to scouts before his rise to the top of the draft crop this season. He sees the game well, and as we’ve seen this year, has a knack for finding his teammates in scoring areas. His long reach assists him on defense, but there are some concerns in his own zone.
One of the biggest items called into question with Korchinski’s current game, believe it or not, is his hockey IQ. Though he has shown fantastic vision on the ice, previous scouting reports have indicated there are times when he tries to force a play through the zone, resulting in a turnover, and every so often, a Grade-A chance for the opposition. These concerns have eased as the WHL season has progressed, however, as an offensive-minded defenseman, he still needs to work on situational positioning and decision-making.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Kevin Korchinski – NHL Draft Projection
Korchinski is all over the board in terms of projections, but most of the updated boards have him in the late teens, early 20s. That said, his draft stock continues to trend upwards, and some have indicated he may be the first defenseman selected in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. Look for him to be drafted somewhere in the mid-to-late teens, but don’t be surprised if he jumps even a bit higher on draft day.
“Reports vary widely on this player. You’re wowed by the skating ability and edgework, as much as you’re concerned about his ability to defend.” — Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
“Kevin Korchinski is one of the top draft-eligible defensemen in the WHL this season and plays in all situations for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He blends size and strong edges with great puck skills, making him one of the more intriguing defensemen to come out of the WHL this season. Give him space and he’ll explore his options and seek to create offense with it. It’s a modern style of play, putting speed and puck moving over a “traditional” stay at home style.” — Matthew Somma, SMAHT Scouting.
“Korchinski has made huge progression this season and continues to look more and more like one of the top prospects in the 2022 draft. He plays with an incredible abundance of fluidity, moving effortlessly and gracefully in all directions. And when you add in his long strides and great mechanics, it allows him to cover huge swaths of ice in no time and with little energy expended.” — Derek Neumeier, FC Hockey
“When Korchinski has the puck, he isn’t always eager to get rid of it. He usually shows good patience with the puck, waiting to identify open passing lanes in order to advance the play. This has come in handy in the transition game. Korchinski uses his skating and passing to exploit the open area of the ice and transition the puck out of danger into an offensive possession. When in the offensive end, Korchinski is not afraid to be aggressive and join the attack.” Nick Richard — Dobber Prospects
- Skating / Edgework
- Skill / Puck handling
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Quicker decision making
- Defensive Zone Prowess
Korchinski isn’t a sure-fire lock for the NHL level, but if he continues to develop at the impressive rate that he’s shown this season, many think he can be a reliable top-four defenseman in the league. As mentioned above, there are a number of areas for improvement before he can even think about joining an NHL club, including the play in his own defensive zone. Though his WHL scoring and plus/minus rating pop off the page, there’s still work to be done in the defensive side of the rink, and will be critical to his development as a professional.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense – 5/10
- WHL Most Assists by Rookie (61) — 2021-22
- NHL Big Board 2022: Matthew Savoie drops, Kevin Korchinski rises in latest draft rankings
- Five 2022 NHL draft prospects of interest and the art of pick trading
- DP Draft Reports: Logan Cooley, Kevin Korchinski, Calle Odelius, Jagger Firkus, Mattias Hävelid
- Scout’s Notebook: Denton Mateychuk, Kevin Korchinski, Pavel Mintyukov, and development theory
- Saskatoon Product Korchinski Off to CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
A die-hard hockey fan in the desert, and proud Iowa State alum. Detroit Red Wings and Arizona Coyotes contributor for The Hockey Writers.