It’s easy to imagine that GMs view the first overall draft pick with nothing but excitement. After all, they get to pick their number one choice, no compromises and no questions of what might have been if they’d only been luckier. However, there is also a great amount of pressure that goes with that first overall pick, namely, there are no excuses for not selecting the best player in the draft. Some years, there’s very little question about who that player is. No one doubted that Connor McDavid would go first overall. This year’s draft sees a tougher choice between Nico Hischier (who was selected first in the Hockey Wilderness’s mock draft) and Nolan Patrick. So in this case, the Philadelphia Flyers GM is doubly fortunate that his team advanced several spots to land the second overall pick and he doesn’t have to choose between Hischier and Patrick. He can just select whichever remains available, secure in the knowledge that he made the best choice available.
Patrick, at 6’3” and just shy of 200 pounds, already has enough size to play in the NHL, although he will surely attempt to add some additional muscle to his frame. More attractive than his size is his offensive game. Patrick has exceptional puck vision and hockey IQ. He likes to have the puck on his stick and is constantly generating opportunities both for himself and his teammates. Unlike many center prospects that are known for their puck vision, Patrick is a shoot-first forward, but one that has not been described as a puck hog by scouts. Instead, he walks the fine line between shooting too often and passing too often, allowing him to capitalize on the opportunities that come when opponents try to cheat him one way or the other.
Take a look at this highlight video. Apart from his apparent hatred of water bottles (he snipes several off the nets with his powerful and fast shot), notice that he likes to carry the puck into medium-close range before shooting. Near the middle of the video, watch as he finds ways to set up his teammates as the defense commits to stopping Patricks’ shot.
Talented though he clearly is, Patrick actually doesn’t stand head and shoulders above the other skaters in his draft class in any particular area of the game. Rather, it’s the combination of above-to-well-above average skills in every aspect of the game that make Patrick such an appealing pick. His only weakness (which is a strong word for it) is that he has a slow rate of acceleration. He projects to be a top line two-way center with power forward size and strength. His all around abilities will likely make him a valuable contributor early on as he can play a lower line role in his early years as he finishes developing physically and learns the game at the NHL level.
How He’d Fit on the Wild
Recall what a boost to the Wild Eric Staal has been for the Wild this year. Now imagine what the Wild would have been like if they had had Staal during his prime. That is what Patrick could potentially bring to the Wild as a big, skilled top line center that likes to shoot but is equally skilled at finding his teammates on the ice. He would likely be ready to take over that top line role by the end of Staal’s deal, giving the Wild a 1C prospect to go along with their other exciting prospects at forward.
How the Wild Could Acquire Him
This draft class has been characterized as a weak one, but Patrick is still a top prospect that is frequently ranked as the overall best pick in this year’s class. To get him would require more than the Wild can afford to give up, especially as they already lack a first round pick that would almost certainly need to be packaged alongside a player like Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, or Jared Spurgeon.
What might work is waiting 10-12 years and step in with a nice three year deal for Patrick after he is allowed to walk by his team after a few years of steady decline convince his team that he has nothing left to give. Recent experience suggests that it might work out great for the Wild and Patrick.
Nolan Patrick 2017 scouting report | SB Nation NHL Draft Match
Nolan Patrick will be a top two pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and it's time you get to know him.Posted by SB Nation NHL on Monday, May 15, 2017