ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Callan Foote is the No. 12-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth overall selection at the draft.
Callan Foote has big shoes to fill.
Not necessarily because his father, Adam Foote, is a legendary defenseman that won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche and an Olympic gold medal in 2002 and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey title with Team Canada.
Or because he joined a Kelowna Rockets team that boasts blueliner alumni that includes Tyson Barrie, Scott Hannan, Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Tyler Myers (Winnipeg Jets), Sheldon Souray and Shea Weber (Montreal Canadiens).
Mostly, Foote has big shoes to fill because he's a growing boy with sizable feet.
"He's got something like size 16 or 17 feet, so he's working into those," Rockets assistant general manager Lorne Frey told NHL.com in October.
Big feet means big skates and a big frame, and that's what Foote has. The 18-year-old rear guard already stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 212 pounds, and he's looking to capitalize on Kelowna's reputation for cultivating NHL-caliber defensemen as he prepares to go in the first round of the 2017 draft.
"When I decided to go to Kelowna, it was definitely a goal of mine to be a part of that group of defensemen that have moved on and had a successful career," Foote said at the 2017 Scouting Combine in Buffalo, New York. "So it'd mean quite a bit."
Ranked No. 12 on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American prospects, Foote is certainly the type of player that will make any club happy.
"Callan is a great kid. He's big. He has a great mind for the game. He really can move the puck very well," said Alan Hepple, the Avalanche's director of amateur scouting. "He's come a long way, and I see a guy that is going to play in the National Hockey League for a long time."
Video: Alan Hepple discusses prospect Callan Foote
Foote led Rockets rookies in assists (28) and freshmen blueliners in goals (eight) and points (36) during his first season (2015-16) in the Western Hockey League after being selected in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft.
He even finished the year ranked fourth in the league among rookies with nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 18 postseason contests. His eight helpers put him third among all first-year players and fourth amongst WHL defensemen.
Prior to that, he spent six seasons (2009-2015) skating with his hometown Colorado Thunderbirds in the AAA program, developing his talents while his father finished up his professional career down the street at Pepsi Center.
"I was young, and I didn't see much, but I wish I saw more, definitely," Foote said of growing up watching his father play. "I wish I saw more of his playing time when I was younger, but I was fortunate enough to be around the locker rooms and stuff like that. I was very lucky as a kid to be around that, that's for sure."
Being around the Avalanche meant more than just heading to the rink for practices and games. Foote also grew up with then-Avs rookie Matt Duchene, who lived with the family during his first two campaigns in Denver.
"It was really cool to see the bond that we developed with him and how good he was to us," Foote told NHL.com's Adam Kimelman. "Going to the rink and seeing him prepare was pretty cool, to see the different styles between him and my dad. But it was really cool to see how they both did it.
"I definitely do remember being with Matt and Gabriel [Landeskog] and guys like that, and looking up to them and being in shock. For me, I just sat back. I didn't really get in their way of what they're doing and kind of learned what to do. It was definitely a great experience and I'll always remember being in there with them."
Video: Altitude TV profiles prospect Callan Foote
Preparation and development are two things Foote has taken to heart during his time in the WHL. He improved upon his first year in Kelowna, finishing the 2016-17 season ranked first on the squad in plus/minus rating (plus-39), second in assists (51) and fourth in points (57) in 71 games played. He added eight more points (two goals, six assists) in 14 playoff contests and skated in two games with the WHL All-Stars in the 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series.
He credits his upward trajectory to the work that the Rockets have done with him.
"I think it's the organization, the people within," Foote said at the Scouting Combine. "Bruce Hamilton [and] Lorne Frey do a great job of recruiting young players. I guess they like their defensemen up there and have done a good job developing them."
There's certainly attention that comes with having a well-known hockey father, especially one revered among Colorado Avalanche faithful, but Callan Foote would rather put any player comparisons to bed ahead of the first round on June 23.
"I'm more offensive than he was, and I think that's the biggest difference, my offensive ability," Foote said.
The 18-year-old kid with a nice first pass, a big body, offensive upside, defensive awareness and some sizable feet is looking to take the first step in filling some large shoes in front of him, but it won't be in the way most are expecting.
"Adam Foote played a physical, shutdown-type role. Callan is more of a puck-moving hockey player," said Hepple. "He's a container, and he eliminates. He keeps people away from the net. He works hard down low, and he battles in the corners. But again, different game, different era.
"Three years ago, he was playing with the Colorado Thunderbirds. Three years later, he's being talked about in the first round of the National Hockey League Draft. His mind, his skill level and his size are getting a lot of attention."