2016-17 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (#19)
Date of Birth: September 19, 1998
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 198 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): 1st (final)
- Future Considerations: 1st (final)
- ISS: 1st (May)
- Bob McKenzie: 1st (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 2nd (final)
- The Hockey News: 1st (final)
It seems like only yesterday that Nolan Patrick first stepped onto Junior hockey’s stage. But the Manitoba product has been with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings for three seasons already. Patrick was impressive as a 16-year-old and has only improved, emerging as one of the WHL’s most impressive and consistent players.
Patrick is a guy that does everything well and nothing poorly. He skates well, with effective acceleration, good top speed and strong mobility. He’s a good 200-foot player, strong both with the puck and away from the puck, though he tends to be most effective in the offensive zone. He’s more of a pass-first player than a shoot-first player, but he doesn’t seem to lean on one single tendency within games – which makes him tough to anticipate in the offensive zone and creates headaches for defenders.
Another strong point for Patrick is he emerged as an on-ice leader for the Wheaties from a young age. He was a point-per-game player as a 16-year-old rookie. He served as an alternate captain, had 100 points and was the best player on the WHL’s championship team and went to the Memorial Cup as a 17-year-old. He’s team captain as an 18-year-old and been a take-charge player since he arrived on the scene. He also tends to play better when his team is down – the Wheat Kings got thumped during their Memorial Cup appearance, but Patrick was superb and created a ton of scoring opportunities when his team was trailing. He missed a big chunk of this season due to injury,
He’s team captain as an 18-year-old and been a take-charge player since he arrived on the scene. He also tends to play better when his team is down – the Wheat Kings got thumped during their Memorial Cup appearance, but Patrick was superb and created a ton of scoring opportunities when his team was trailing. He missed a big chunk of this season due to injury but still has enough of a body of work to stand out among his peers.
While Patrick is the consensus best player in the 2017 Draft class, he’s not considered a potential elite player the way similarly-situated players were in previous draft classes. The reason? He’s not bad at anything, but it’s argued that he doesn’t have a single aspect of his game that’s especially dynamic or dominant. He’s really good, but he’s not tearing apart the league mercilessly the way Auston Matthews did the Swiss League or Nathan MacKinnon ripped apart the Quebec League.
In addition, as a late September birthday, Patrick has had the benefit of going through the last few seasons being a few months older than his cohorts which has given him a size and experience advantage. He’s already 6’3″ and close to 200 pounds, which means he can play an NHL-style game already but also might limit his further development – in the sense that he’s closer to his ceiling now than some younger or less-developed players may be.
That said, Patrick plays a very effective, NHL-style game and has since he was 16. He’s the best player in the 2017 draft class and is a good bet to be at worst a very solid NHLer.
NHL Draft Projection:
Barring a massive late surge by Nico Hischier, Patrick is the consensus first overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.
“He’s one of those team-first players. There are no surprises. He gives you the same game, the same performance every time you see him. I would have anticipated he would have gone out and been a valuable member of the Canadian team.” – Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting (on Patrick’s potential to play at the 2017 World Juniors)
— Jeremy Crowe (@307x) February 16, 2017
“His body of work is such that even if he didn’t play a single game for the rest of the season he’d still go first overall. That is, as long as the injury isn’t something that will plague him his entire career, and many don’t believe it will.” – Jeff Marek, Sportsnet
“Patrick certainly has a lot of qualities that NHL teams look for in a player. If you’re looking for a comparison, think Jonathan Toews with perhaps a lower ceiling.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
- Very good hockey sense.
- Good passer with good vision.
- Very effective, quick shot.
- Strong skater, good mobility.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Could be more aggressive as a forechecker.
- Could stand to develop more of a physical edge to his game as he transitions to the pros.
- Injuries could be a concern given he missed a big chunk of this season.
Patrick projects as a top six center at the NHL level.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offense 8.5/10, Defense 8.5/10
Nolan Patrick has represented Canada at several major international events including the World Under-17 Challenge and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, capturing gold at the Hlinka. He missed an invite to Hockey Canada’s World Junior selection camp this year due to injury.
He was the WHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2015, was named to the Second All-Star Team in 2016 and was also the league’s playoff MVP.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.