With about two and a half weeks to go (16 days! Not that I’m counting or anything) until the 2017 NHL Entry-Level Draft and with the NHL Scouting Combine officially completed, I thought it was time to take a look at two of the draft prospects that the New Jersey Devils might consider taking first overall: Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. I’ll (briefly) cover Patrick today and Hischier tomorrow, and then I’ll compare the two on Friday (actual comparisons and crack comparisons).
Name: Nolan Patrick
Birth Date: September 19th, 1998 (18 years old)
Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN
Height (NHL Scouting Combine): 6′ 2″ (188 cm)
Weight (NHL Scouting Combine): 198.82 lbs (90.18 kg)
I try not to take too much stock in the results of the Scouting Combine. Those tests and their results usually don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to NHL play and how NHL-ready the prospects are. Theoretically, prospects who do outstanding on the tests might turn out to be busts and prospects who do poorly might become the “next big thing”. But here’s how Patrick did anyway (from what I’ve been able to find): 12 bench press reps, 11 pull-ups (tied for 7th overall with several other prospects), a 19.49″ vertical jump, and 4.76-second (moving left) and 4.75-second (moving right) agility splits. He also managed to throw up his breakfast after the Wingate test, which, let’s be real, would probably happen to a good number of us.
What matters more to me is his actual hockey ability and he’s pretty amazing. He’s fun to watch, to say the least. He’s played parts of the past four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL and donned the “C” on his jersey the past season. He’s racked up 205 points (92 goals and 113 assists) in 163 regular season games, and 45 points (21 goals and 24 assists) in 49 playoff games. He averaged 1.26 points per game during the regular season, 0.92 PPG during the postseason. He also racked up 128 penalty minutes. Despite missing a fair amount of time with injuries this past season (more on that in a bit), he tallied 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) and 36 penalty minutes in 33 games (1.40 PPG). He spent most of 2013-14 with the Winnipeg Thrashers Midget AAA team in the MMHL, tallying 63 points (33 goals and 30 assists) in 39 games; he scored 10 points in eight playoff games with them.
2015-16 was arguably his best season with Brandon; he donned the “A” on his jersey and helped Brandon win the WHL Championship. He was named the Playoffs MVP and had the most playoff points (30); he was also named to the (East) Second All-Star Team. He had 102 points (41 goals and 61 assists) in 72 regular season games. I don’t think there were many players who played hockey at the level he did that year and if you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself:
Remarkable, isn’t it?
And if that isn’t enough, he was also named the WHL Rookie of the Year (the Jim Piggott Trophy) and scored the most goals by a rookie (30) in 2014-15. So yeah, he’s a pretty special hockey player and he’s shown that he’s a leader on and off the ice, even at the ripe age of 18.
He would have been a game-changer this season too had he not been injured; he’s had a number of injuries over the past few seasons, including a broken collarbone, a second broken collarbone, a possible groin injury, sports hernia, another groin injury, another sports hernia, and a knee/leg injury. They’re not major injuries and they definitely don’t worry me as much as they did a few weeks ago. Patrick says he’ll be 100% healthy come training camp and he looked fine at the Scouting Combine. He’s still a young kid and hopefully these injuries aren’t going to be a consistent problem. I don’t think he’s “injury-prone” at all.
He’s a big body and he has a hard-to-ignore physical presence. He has a very high hockey IQ. He has a wicked shot with the puck and he sees the ice well. He knows where everyone else is on the ice. He’s fast and quick on his feet. He’s a playmaker and a goal-scorer. He is a two-way center and he can pretty much do it all. Because he’s played in the North American system his entire hockey career up until this point, he won’t have as much difficulty adjusting to the demands and the playing style of the NHL.
I’ve already gone through these three hours of footage (more than just once, I might add) but you should definitely check it out if you have time:
He’s a good hockey player and an even better kid, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be NHL-ready come September with a strong summer and training camp. He was the undisputed #1 overall pick just a few months ago and the Devils might still pick him. Does he fit into their vision of the future? Yes. Will he fit in with the team? Also yes. How concerned are the Devils with his injuries? Do they see or know something that we don’t? Probably. New Jersey can’t really go wrong if they do end up picking him but if they don’t, the only other realistic possibility at #1 would be Nico Hischier, who I’ll take a look at tomorrow.