Well, it’s official — the NHL Entry Draft is coming to the Windy City for the first time.
On Thursday, the league announced that Chicago and the United Center would play hosts to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, marking the first time in league history the ‘Hawks organization has hosted the event.
“The energy and passion Chicago has for the Blackhawks makes United Center the ideal setting for the 2017 NHL Draft,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “The Draft will be one of the central moments of our Centennial, and the NHL family is looking forward to bringing this signature event to Chicago for the first time.”
Though it’s still far off — heck, the 2016 draft, which will be held in Buffalo this June, hasn’t even happened yet — the ’17 draft already has a few key names attached to it.
Chief among them is WHL Brandon forward Nolan Patrick, the son of ex-NHLer Steve Patrick.
Nolan, 17, scored 56 points in 55 games for the Wheat Kings in his first full campaign, capturing the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s rookie of the year.
He’s expected to be one of the top players selected in ’17, as is Timothy Liljegren, a defenseman currently plying his trade with Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League.
Maple Leafs and Coyotes featured prominently on Craig Button’s list of the top 50 NHL-affiliated prospects.
Button, the former Calgary GM whose current title is TSN’s Director of Scouting, has two Leafs forwards — William Nylander (1st) and Mitch Marner (6th) — and two Coyotes forwards — Dylan Strome (2nd) and Christian Dvorak (3rd) — in his top six.
Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov is fourth, with Jets forward Kyle Connor fifth.
Click here to read the other 44 youngsters that made the cut.
One of them is Jimmy Vesey (8th), the Harvard scoring sensation the Predators need to sign by August, otherwise he can become a free agent.
Bruce Boudreau has one of those “problems you like to have” in Anaheim.
Much of his club’s recent surge is due to excellent play from both netminders — John Gibson and Frederik Andersen — but after alternating starts for the last five games, Boudreau will give Andersen his second straight nod when the Ducks take on the Jackets in Columbus.
The Danish netminder is full value for consecutive starts. Andersen made 28 saves and allowed just one goal in a win over Philadelphia last time out and has been on fire over his last six games, going a perfect 6-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .941 save percentage.
“We just wanted to change the rotation a little bit,” Boudreau said of tonight’s starting goalie choice, per the O.C. Register. “Gibby’s done really good against Chicago and Vancouver and Freddie’s done really good against Edmonton, Calgary. He played an outstanding game last game and I thought he deserved this game tonight.”
Anaheim is in the midst of a lengthy seven-game road swing. After tonight’s game, the Ducks take on the ‘Hawks, Oilers and Flames before wrapping the trip in Vancouver on Feb. 18.
For Columbus, Joonas Korpisalo starts in goal.
“Malcolm underwent successful surgery on February 8 at Mass Eye & Ear Hospital in Boston to repair his larynx fracture. He is doing well and has been released from the hospital. While there is no definitive timetable for his return at this time, he is expected to be out a minimum of eight weeks.”
Subban, 22, was the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft.