Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.
Kaedan Korczak, a defenseman with Kelowna of the Western Hockey League, was taken aback by the name on a text message that popped up on his phone last summer.
"It said, 'Maybe: Shea Weber,'" Korczak said. "I thought someone was pulling a prank on me."
But it really was the Montreal Canadiens defenseman and Kelowna alum, reaching out to offer any advice Korczak might need entering his NHL Draft season.
"My billets were good friends with him," Korczak said. "It's been good for sure.
"Shea actually texted me in the summer and said not to worry about anything and if I needed anything to just text him. It was nice to hear from him and get his advice on the draft year and all that stuff."
Korczak (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) had a solid season with Kelowna, with 33 points (four goals, 29 assists) in 68 games, and the 18-year-old right-handed shot is No. 32 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2019 NHL Draft.
Weber was No. 42 in the final ranking for the 2003 NHL Draft before being selected by the Nashville Predators in the second round (No. 49), and now at 33 years old still remembers the stress.
"Obviously in your draft year there's a lot that goes on," Weber said. "I just told him to block all the extra stuff out, excess stuff, and play your game and everything will work itself out. The team will be successful and that'll translate to his success."
It worked for Korczak, who more than doubled the 16 points (three goals, 13 points) he had in 67 games last season. He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and had one assist in seven games for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
"What Shea texted me in the summer … he said to not read into anything," K,orczak said. "It's just one person's opinion. He just said to focus on what I can do and control what I can control. What I can't control is nothing I can do.
"He just said to zone out and go into every day trying to get better. That's the one piece that stuck with me. He was a second rounder. He's made a pretty good living where he is right now.
"That's what I lean on."
It's the kind of advice Weber wishes he had received when he was 18.
"That would have been pretty cool definitely," Weber said. "I was lucky to have good peers around me, but that would've been pretty neat, obviously, to have an NHLer give me advice, especially in my draft year and everything coming with it."
Korczak doesn't talk to Weber every day, but he does see him every time he walks the halls at Prospera Place, Kelowna's home rink. A 12-foot tall mural of Weber is one of a number of decorated Kelowna alums immortalized on a portion of the arena wall between sections 109 and 112. Most of the paintings are of defensemen, all of whom have won the Stanley Cup, the Memorial Cup or a gold medal at the World Junior Championship or the Olympics. Weber's mural depicts him holding the Memorial Cup he helped Kelowna win in 2004 and wearing gold medals from the 2005 WJC and 2010 Vancouver Olympics, won with Canada.
Other defensemen honored with paintings include of Scott Hannan, Duncan Keith, Josh Gorges, Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Tyson Barrie, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey.
Like Weber, they serve as an inspiration for where Korczak would like to go.
"That is the dream," he said. "It's nice to see all the [defensemen] for sure. The list goes on. I hope I'm the next name up there. That'd be nice. It gives me a lot of inspiration."
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