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Nolan Patrick has long been considered the best prospect in the 2017 NHL Draft. He has maintained that position for most of the year (though we had him at #2 in February), despite a myriad of injuries including a sports hernia that kept him out of the first half of the year and the World Junio Hockey Championships. He currently has a lower-body injury that has kept him out of the Brandon Wheat Kings playoffs.
When he has played, he continues to dominate in the WHL with 20 goals and 46 points in just 33 games. Patrick put up 41 goals and 102 points in 72 games in 2015-16, as well as 13 goals and 30 points in 12 playoff games as the Wheat Kings won the WHL Championship and was named WHL Playoff MVP. Patrick is seen as a leader, he was named Captain of the Wheat Kings this season.
Nolan’s father Steve Patrick was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres and had a journeyman’s NHL career playing in 250 NHL games. His uncle is James Patrick, a defenceman who spent many years in the NHL, mostly with the New York Rangers.
Nolan Patrick Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #1
Center — shoots Right
Born Sep 19 1998 — Winnipeg, MAN
Height 6’03” — Weight 198 lbs [191 cm / 90 kg]
Teams around the NHL are looking for the big franchise centre. Already 6’3″ tall, Patrick has excellent size and a strong and powerful skating stride. He gets good speed and acceleration, allowing him to create offensively off the rush and in the offensive zone. Patrick is powerful and can fight through checks and get to the net. He has good balance and is tough to knock off the puck. Patrick has decent agility and edgework, helping him to make quick cuts and take advantage of his strong puck handling skills.
A natural sniper, Nolan Patrick has a tremendous wrist shot and quick release. He also has quick, soft hands and can bury chances close to the net. His game is incredibly mature for his age. He has high end hockey IQ and always seems to make the right play both with and without the puck. Patrick has excellent vision and passing skills. He can put the puck through tight areas and make tape-to-tape passes for teammates. Patrick has the skill to make his linemates better. His long reach and quick hands make him a very good puck handler. He can extend plays, waiting for his teammates to get open. Patrick also has the ability to slow the playdown, or speed it up, giving defenders one more thing to think about.
He can play both the power and the finesse game. Nolan Patrick works well down low, using his big body to shield the puck and to make plays in the cycle game. He can get in quickly on the forecheck and forces opposing defencemen to make a quick play, or make a mistake. Patrick’s big frame is quite intimidating in battles, both along the boards and in front of the net.
He also plays a strong two-way game and is even used to kill penalties. Patrick is a very smart player. His positioning is strong. He creates turnovers through good anticipation of what his opponents will do, as well as a quick stick. Patrick is also willing to support the defence down low. He is willing to get physically involved in all three zones.
Nolan Patrick is willing to drop the gloves to protect himself, or a teammate when necessary.
Comparison and Projection
While Patrick is not as good a prospect as the last two first overall picks, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews; he still has the potential to become a franchise centre. He might take a little longer to have the immediate impact that McDavid and Matthews have had, but he still could grow to be a very valuable player if he can reach his ceiling. Staying healthy will be key. He is reminiscent of Ryan Getzlaf in terms of playing style. This is not a talent comparison, but simply a stylistic one.
The following is a collection of highlight videos available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #2 Prospect in our draft rankings.