Patrick. Hischier. Vilardi. Glass. Tippett. Makar.
The Nolan vs. Nico debate headlines a CHL top-heavy NHL Entry Draft that could see some serious shake-ups thanks to a new expansion team and AJHL golden boy Cale Makar entering the mix.
We’ve been following them for years and now it’s time to see where these top prospects will end up. Get ready. Get excited. Don’t miss a thing with our NHL Draft Preview.
It’s time for this year’s class to get ready for the spotlight.
Players like Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier have spent most of their lives honing their hockey skills in pursuit of their dream of making it to the NHL. Now they’re closing in on that reality as we get closer to the 2017 NHL Draft.
The bulk of discussion surrounding this year’s draft has been centred around Nolan vs. Nico and which of these budding prospects will go first overall. Consensus has Patrick, the Brandon Wheat Kings power forward, going first overall to the New Jersey Devils, surprise winners of this year’s draft lottery.
He’s been the top-ranked prospect for quite some time, even after a season in which he was limited to just 33 games due to injuries that kept him off of Canada’s World Junior team.
However, nobody can discount Hischier, who could go down as the best player Switzerland has ever produced by the time his career is over.
The Halifax Mooseheads star and 2017 CHL rookie of the year brings a dynamic skillset and hockey sense that has convinced some scouts to rank him ahead of Patrick.
Drafting second overall, the Philadelphia Flyers will be over the moon whether they land Patrick or Hischier. They play a different style of game, but are seen as being very close in terms of the value they can bring to a franchise.
Slightly further down the list, there’s a who’s who of top-end talent like former HockeyNow Player of the Year Gabriel Vilardi, as well as Casey Middlestadt, Miro Heiskanen, Owen Tippett, Cody Glass and Cale Makar, that is ripe for picking.
One of these prospects could make history by becoming the first player ever to be drafted by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
That comes a few days after the NHL’s first expansion draft in 17 years, which sparked countless rumours on who would be traded or picked up to form the Vegas roster – and how many extra draft picks they may acquire.
Whether they’ll be sticking to their #6 pick or adding more, Vegas certainly has a strong prospect pool to choose from.
There’s an intriguing group of mid-first round prospects to look out for when you add NHL hopefuls like Michael Rasmussen, Nick Suzuki, Eeli Tolvanen, Timothy Liljegren, Nic Hague, Kailer Yamamoto and other former HockeyNow Player of the Year Jaret Anderson-Dolan into the mix.
In recent years, we’ve been spoiled with “generational talents” who have gone through the draft.
No one can forget the 2015 draft that saw Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel go 1-2. They both made a seamless transition into the NHL, with McDavid captaining the Edmonton Oilers and leading the league in scoring with 100 points in just his second NHL season.
Then the 2016 draft saw Auston Matthews go first overall, followed by Patrik Laine. Like McDavid and Eichel before them, Matthews and Laine didn’t waste any time getting used to the rigours of an NHL schedule.
It’s a stretch to say Patrick or Hischier will make that same impact, but they’ll be given every opportunity to make an NHL roster right away and have long careers ahead of them.
Several other hopefuls have done as much as they can to prepare for the draft and now comes the time to enjoy the experience with their families, all while remembering that it’s the start of a journey and there’s still a lot of work that lies ahead.
Explore full NHL Draft Preview in new digital edition or read each section below:
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1) John Dean Returns to OJHL to Coach Toronto Patriots
2) Off-Season Brings About Massive Turnover for OHL Coaches
3) Justin Sourdif Named 2017 HockeyNow Player of the Year for B.C.
4) Where Are They Now: 2016 Player of the Year Owen Lalonde
5) Former NHLer Jason York Now Part of Kemptville 73’s Ownership Group