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 Kelowna Rockets

Draisaitl To Play In Stanley Cup Final

June 3, 2024 - Western Hockey League (WHL)
Kelowna Rockets News Release

Former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl
Former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl
(Kelowna Rockets)

A total of 16 Western Hockey League alumni (11 players, four staff), including former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl , will compete in the Stanley Cup Final, beginning on Saturday, June 8 in Sunrise, Fla.

Draisaitl will try to become the eighth former Rocket to lift the Stanley Cup. Acquired at the 2015 WHL trade deadline, Draisatil helped the Rockets to their 2015 WHL Championship where he was named both the WHL Playoff MVP and the Memorial Cup MVP.

The WHL graduates represent over 2,000 regular season games played, five WHL championships and a Memorial Cup victory.

2023-24 Edmonton Oilers

F- Leon Draisaitl* (Prince Albert Raiders, Kelowna Rockets)

F- Evander Kane* (Vancouver Giants)

F- Ryan Nugent Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels)

F- Lane Pederson (Seattle Thunderbirds, Red Deer Rebels, Swift Current Broncos)

F- Derek Ryan (Spokane Chiefs)

D- Brett Kulak (Vancouver Giants)

G- Calvin Pickard (Seattle Thunderbirds)

G- Stuart Skinner* (Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos)

Oilers Head Coach Kris Knoblauch suited up for more than 200 WHL games with the Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton/Kootenay ICE and Lethbridge Hurricanes before returning to the league as a coach, leading the Kootenay ICE to the team's third Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2010-11.

Assistant coach Glen Gulutzan hit the ice with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades as a youngster, averaging nearly a point per game.

Goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz played four seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels before returning to the league as a goaltending consultant for the Edmonton Oil Kings.

2023-24 Florida Panthers

F- Sam Reinhart* (Kootenay ICE)

F- Justin Sourdif* (Vancouver Giants, Edmonton Oil Kings)

D- Josh Mahura (Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats)

Panthers assistant coach Jamie Kompon spent two seasons as General Manager and Head Coach of the Portland Winterhawks in the mid-2010s, while goaltending coach Rob Tallas played more than 100 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds before making the jump to the pro ranks.

*Denotes WHL Champion

Panthers alternate captain Sam Reinhart won the 2011 WHL Championship, along with ICE Head Coach Kris Knoblauch.

Reinhart, a Vancouver, B.C. product, was named the WHL Rookie of the Year in 2011-12 and snagged Player of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player honours in 2013-14.

Sourdif, a longtime Vancouver Giant, was traded to Edmonton in 2021-22 and helped the Oil Kings lift the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the fifth time.

Edmonton's Evander Kane is the lone WHL grad in the group to capture the WHL title (2006) and a Memorial Cup (2007).

Leon Draisaitl came agonizingly close to matching Kane after helping Kelowna top the WHL in 2015, but the Rockets fell just short in the final match.

Draisaitl was named both the WHL Playoff MVP and the Memorial Cup MVP.

Edmonton goaltender Stuart Skinner, who seized the Oilers' starting job last season, backstopped the Swift Current Broncos to the team's third WHL Championship in 2018.

A total of 42 CHL alumni (22 Ontario Hockey League players and coaches, five Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League players) will battle for hockey's greatest prize, including three NHL first-overall draft picks- Captains Connor McDavid (Erie Otters, 2015) and Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts, 2014) and Ryan Nugent Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels, 2011).

The Oilers have reached the NHL's final round for the first time since 2006 after eliminating the Los Angeles Kings (4-1), Vancouver Canucks (4-3) and Dallas Stars (4-2).

Florida is making a second-straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Final after downing the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1), Boston Bruins (4-2) and New York Rangers (4-2).

Edmonton is on the hunt for its sixth Stanley Cup, while the Panthers have never lifted hockey's most hallowed trophy.

Game 1 is set for Saturday, June 8 in Sunrise, Fla.

The series shifts north to Edmonton, Alta. for Game 3 on Thursday, June 13.

Images from this story

Former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl
Former Kelowna Rocket Leon Draisaitl


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