Number One Nolan or Nico the Knight? It’s a question that some lucky NHL general managers and scouts will answer before June. TSN’s Craig Button consistently projects Nolan Patrick as his number one overall pick. Also, Button continues to be impressed by Swiss skater Nico Hischier. Button believes two teams will be happy to select one of the top prospects. After that though… not so much.
I’m not so sure there’s a difference between the 3rd and the 15th pick… The top two guys, Patrick and Hischier have separated themselves. They’re a cut above. –Craig Button, TSN’s Director of Scouting
Patrick has gone bananas in his return from injury. The Brandon Wheat King center has five goals and 13 points in seven games since his return. Including four helpers in last night’s Wheat King 6-3 victory. Wow, right? Most analysts say it’s easy scouting Patrick. He was on the outside cusp of last year’s draft, so they’re very aware of his talent.
It definitely is a two-player field for the top [North America] ranking and Nolan Patrick was the frontrunner going into the season for the 2017 draft and remains the top candidate for NHL Central Scouting. It’s unfortunate [Patrick] had to miss so much time but it was necessary for him to be able to return at 100 percent. He’s been well known to NHL scouts for the past three years; his game continues to show he’s a top prospect. –Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting
Patrick may not be deemed a “generational” talent like Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews but has the size and skill to be an NHL All-Star.
There’s no franchise-type player in this draft and even the No. 1 consensus pick, Nolan Patrick, had the injury factor so there are still questions. That said, Patrick is a big, strong center and can skate well. It’s just a matter of his development and getting more experience and strength. But he has all the pro attributes that you’re looking for. –Joe McDonnell, Dallas Stars Director of Amateur Scouting
Hischier is smaller but has impressed scouts more and more all season. Analysts believe he has the skills to make an impact.
Hischier was also a known commodity coming into the season and we’ve been able to see the continued growth of his game and development as he transitioned into an impact player with Halifax. He also displayed his talents on the World Junior stage. -Marr
Both players showed off their skills in last week’s Top Prospects game. Patrick had two assists for Team Cherry as they beat Hischier’s Team Orr 7-5. Nico the Knight had a big game with a goal, two assists and 8/14 on faceoffs. Hischier was named Team Orr’s MVP.
In the end it’s still a hockey game and there are 20 guys on each side so you have to have fun; that’s the most important thing. I know Nolan is a great hockey player. He has good hockey sense, good hands and a good shot so there aren’t many things he can’t do so for sure I think he’s a good player. –Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads
Teams are prepared for a light draft and some are dangling first round picks in exchange for deadline help. Teams in years past have been hesitant to give up picks but this season could be different. With seemingly more contenders than pretenders June’s entry draft could be completely untraditional. A perfect situation for Vegas.
I think the media makes more of [Patrick vs. Hischier] than it actually is. I’m not going out there just trying to battle against him. I’m going out there to focus on my game and play as well as I can. You never want to be injured and out 35 games, but I’m feeling good, feeling 100 percent and feel as though I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. -Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings
Getting one of the two top picks is the only option for the Golden Knights. Of course 3-15 will produce some NHL players, but Vegas needs a top-rated prospect. A player that fans can keep an eye on and get excited for a potential superstar. Maybe teams make it easy on GM George McPhee by being less aggressive. Most teams will look to add via trades, free agency and accumulating future picks. The Golden Knights may play it differently. Button and other top scouts say there are two headline players and one should perform on the Strip.