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NHL Draft

Foote enjoying lifelong learning process on road to 2019 NHL Draft

18-year-old Kelowna forward's experience with father/coach Adam giving him leg-up on peers

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2019 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Nolan Foote always has to be on his toes.

At the rink or at home, there's always a lesson to be learned by the 2019 NHL Draft eligible 18-year-old forward.

It's the standard when you're the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, who pulls double-duty as both father and coach.

"He's non-stop giving advice and I love it," Nolan Foote said. "There will be an NHL game on at home and he'll rewind it and just show me that play or whatever it is. Growing up with the rink in the backyard, he was always shooting pucks with me when he had time. He was always trying to improve my game. I can't thank him enough for that. Now he's on the bench. It's great."

Adam, who had 308 points (66 goals, 242 assists) in 1,154 NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets and twice won the Stanley Cup (1996, 2001), was hired by Kelowna of the Western Hockey League on Oct. 23 -- early in Nolan's third season.

It wasn't without some careful consideration by Rockets owner, president and general manager Bruce Hamilton.

"Before we made the change I talked to Nolan to make sure that he was going to be OK with it also," Hamilton said. "He was excited about having his dad coach him again. I think that they've forged a relationship where what goes on at the rink is at the rink, and when they go home he's dad. I haven't seen any problems with that at all."

Naturally, there's been no issue.

"I honestly love it because I want to take in as much advice as I can and learn and grow as a player," said Nolan, 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and No. 37 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking for the 2019 draft released Monday. "He'll bring up a play in the NHL and it's just great to learn from whoever I can."

It's been a lifelong learning process for Nolan and older brother Cal Foote, a defenseman selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round (No. 14) of the 2017 NHL Draft.

Their chase of the NHL dream, after all, started in the NHL.

"It was awesome," said Nolan, who had 63 points (36 goals, 27 assists) in 66 games this season. "I'd be running around and eating popcorn and then (former Colorado and current Winnipeg Jets forward) Matt Hendricks would throw me in the garbage. It was a great experience, seeing the rituals guys had and seeing guys' sticks and what they'd do after a game to cool down.

"I was young, but just to be there was amazing. It's incredible. They're always at the rink. If I had the chance to miss school to go watch the Avalanche practice or whoever it was, anytime I'd take that. Just to be able to talk to NHLers and meet all of them, it was awesome."

Understandably, the experience has given Nolan a leg-up on some of his peers.

"He's had the advantage of seeing first-hand what it takes to play the NHL and with his brother, how the draft process unfolds and exactly how hard it is to play in the NHL," John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said. "Nolan understands the game and knows his limits. He applies his combination of size, smarts and skill in a way that allow him to effectively play multiple roles and as a result, it will make him a versatile two-way player at the next level."

The biggest lesson Nolan's taken from his NHL experience, though, might be most important given he's getting closer to the 2019 draft in Vancouver on June 21-22.

It doesn't matter where you're ranked.

It doesn't matter where you're drafted.

The process doesn't stop come draft day.

"I try to just stay away from it as much as I can," Nolan said. "Rankings pop up and all that stuff comes up and people mention it to you and teams are talking to you. I just try to keep to myself and continue to work with my game.

"The NHL locker room…there are guys who weren't drafted at all. All I can do is keep pushing."

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