Prized prospect Nolan Patrick hasn’t played much this year — missing 35 games for WHL Brandon with an upper-body injury — but his draft stock remains sky high.
On Wednesday, NHL Central Scouting released its midseason rankings and named Patrick its top draft-eligible skater for the 2017 Draft.
Patrick aims to be the first player drafted No. 1 overall out of the WHL since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011 by EDM) and just the third in the past 22 seasons (also Chris Phillips in 1996 by OTT).
Patrick has recorded more than a point per game this season (6-7—13 in 8 GP) despite missing significant time with an injury. In 2015-16, he was named MVP of the WHL Playoffs after helping Brandon win its first championship in 20 years. From a hockey family, his father, Steve Patrick, played 250 games with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques from 1980-86, while his uncle James Patrick skated in 1,280 career regular-season NHL games.
Joining Patrick atop the midseason rankings are:
— Swiss center Nico Hischier, who’s been on fire for QMHJL Halifax and wowed onlookers with his effort at the recently-completed World Juniors.
— Gabriel Vilardi, a center for OHL Windsor who has 34 points through 26 games this season.
— Owen Tippett, the OHL Mississauga winger that’s of no relation to Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, but is the first cousin of Tampa Bay prospect Mitchell Stephens.
— Casey Mittelstadt, who plies his trade for Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota and, prior to that, Green Bay of the USHL.
In terms of international skaters, Russian forward Klim Kostin (Dynamo Moscow) and Sweden’s Elias Pettersson (Sundsvall) are the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked skaters, respectively.