The NHL’s Central Scouting staff put out a full list of 2017 NHL Draft “futures” on Saturday, supporting the notion that it’s never too early to hype up the next wave of prospects.
At the moment, the top pick speculation revolves around Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, including in NHL.com’s breakdown of the biggest names among those futures.
In vague terms, his size and willingness to go to high-danger areas distinguishes Patrick. Scoring 102 points in 72 games in the WHL with the Wheat Kings doesn’t hurt his cause, either.
It’s only natural to seek comparables, of course, and there are plenty streaming out already.
Nolan’s style of play is similar to that of fellow Manitoban Jonathan Toews. He’s skilled, smart and capable of playing and making a difference in all situations of the game. Like Toews, he does it without much flash, but brings significant determination and reliability every time he steps on the ice.
There’s hockey in his blood, too, as his father Steve Patrick was an NHL forward.
Maybe that explains the notable lack of fawning from his dad in this Sportsnet article.
“Nolan was a funny little player at eight. I certainly didn’t look at him and think he’s gonna be a special player,” Steve Patrick said in May. “But he always saw the ice well and even when he was little he could pass the puck. He was a smaller kid and he sometimes played up a year, so I thought he had to be little sneakier to hold on to the puck.
“Plus, he had an older sister who could throw him in a snowbank, so he had to figure a way to keep the puck from her.”
Now that is a scouting report.
Of course, plenty can change in the season, so Patrick must dodge hurdles as if they were siblings readying to “throw him in a snowbank.”