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2017-2018 NHL Draft Analysis: Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier and Vegas Golden Knights

06/21/2017 – With the conclusion of the exciting 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s time to shift gears to the National Hockey League’s (NHL) draft – as it will be the dawn of a new era for not only fans, coaches and players as the Vegas Golden Nights will become the NHL’s 31st team. Keeping this in mind, the draft will be the most interesting of the millennia.

Each team is allowed to protect eleven players; one goalie, three defensemen, and seven forwards which will result in teams having to pay the price to protect players or using existing ones for trade bait, or flat out losing important players. The expansion draft will start Wednesday, and with top players available such as James Neal, Petr Mrazek, Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal along with many others. The Golden Knights will have a lot to choose from, and we’ll have to wait to see what they do.

There comes a point where every franchise will experience turbulence, which the draft lottery comes in hand – for instance the New Jersey Devils, as they’ve missed the playoffs for the past five years, are now fortunately able to have the first overall pick. There is no doubt though that the Devils lucked out by winning the lottery, as they only 8.5% of winning, whereas the last place Colorado Avalanche had 17.9 percent.

Despite the fact that there is no generational player in this year’s draft, such as a  Connor McDavid or an Auston Matthews, there are still two top players that are interchangeable first or second overall picks. The projected number one overall pick is Nolan Patrick, a dominant C/RW of the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, followed by Nico Hischier at second – a centerman of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Patrick is a 199lb center from Winnipeg, Manitoba. At 6’2, this right-handed shot has the ability to light up the score sheet every night – he won the WHL Rookie of the year award with 30 goals and 26 assists in 55 games in 2014. The 2015-2016 was his breakout year though; he had 102 points (fifth in the league) in 72 games on 61 assists and 41 goals (tied for third in the league), while also helping lead his through the playoffs and onto the Brandon Wheat Kings first Memorial Cup in 20 years. During the playoffs, he recorded 13 goals and 17 assists in 21 games, and won an MVP award for the playoffs. He is a very special player.

Unfortunately, Patrick’s 2016-2017 season was plagued with injuries that limited him to 33 games due to a misdiagnosed hernia injury on his right side. The surgery for his injury took place on his right side, however, the injury was also on his left which set back his return to action. Still, Patrick was still able to register 46 points in just 33 games.  It is still questionable though and of whether or not his previous injury is a thing of the past and will loom into his rookie season, and career in the NHL which puts the spot light on potential second overall pick — Nico Hischier.

At 179 pounds and 6’2, the left shot center from Naters, Switzerland looks to become the highest drafted swiss player in N.H.L. history – the last Swiss player two be drafted in the top five was Nino Niederreiter at fifth overall in 2010.

Hischiers already played in two professional leagues in Switzerland at just 16 years old. In 2015-2016, he played for Bern Jr. in the Swiss Junior league where he tallied 28 points in 18 games. The following year he led the QMJHL rookies with 38 goals and 48 assists, 86 points in 57 games for Halifax. He also set a rookie record with the most points in a single game at six with three goals and three assists on October 26th.  He also scored 7 points in six games (three goals and four assists) in his short-stinted playoff run. Along with being named the CHL and QMJHL rookie of the year, he also received the Mike Bossy trophy as the leagues best professional prospect.

The Devils and Flyers have the first and second overall pick, so both teams will each get terrific players. The cards are in the hands of Devils GM Ray Shero and we’ll see what he does on Friday the 23rd.

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