With this disaster of a season mercifully coming to an end, the Colorado Avalanche will now begin to turn their attention to this year’s NHL Draft. The Avalanche will enter the draft lottery with the best odds to receive the top overall pick, but there is no guarantee. The top three picks are part of the lottery, so it is possible that the Avalanche could select as low as fourth overall.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the first of many draft prospect possibilities. We’ll begin our list with the top prospect on the board, Nolan Patrick.
Nolan Patrick plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. He is a big, right-shooting center just finishing his third full season with the Brandon.
Patrick is 6’3″ and 200 lbs., and is the #1 overall ranked skater according the NHL Central Scouting and pretty much every other scouting service out there.
Patrick has an NHL body that still will be filling out and is already checking off the big boxes that teams want to see. Great in all three zones, high motor, great hockey IQ, outstanding vision, possesses and protects the puck well. Yes, Patrick has missed a large chunk of the season to injury this year, but he has 46 points in 33 games and has done nothing but dominate the WHL this season. He will go in the top two, if not the first overall. Here are the goods on Patrick from the scouts.
Since returning from injury has shown that he deserved to stay atop draft lists. Does everything so well, not flashy but has a pro style about him already. Think Jonathan Toews-lite.
A lethal combo of size, speed and skill; plays a power game and possesses one of the most well-rounded skill sets in the CHL…has great wheels and is able to surprise with his speed…hands and ability to protect the puck is high end…plays very responsibly with the puck, but also makes something happen each time he possesses it…uses his strength and reach to guard the puck, driving his way around the offensive zone…a heads-up, confident passer…has a sharp release on his wrist shot and is capable of beating a goaltender from anywhere in the offensive zone.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) March 3, 2017
To most he is the 2017 draft class front-runner who does everything well. His greatest strengths at this point are his on-ice vision, maturity and competitiveness. Hopefully he will continue to improve into a three-zone player. He is already big and has displayed a notable improvement in his skating, mobility and strength. Excellent stop and start skater who explodes away from defenders. Light on his edges; difficult to contain when on the fly. Patrick is a terrific passer who holds the puck until just the right moment and then finds his spot. Goes to the net hungrily and with all possible dispatch.. A good decision maker; his development is coming along nicely, especially skating and on-ice pacing.
Should the Avalanche Draft Him?
Patrick brings a lot of things with him that the Avalanche are currently lacking. He doesn’t take shifts off, he has an engine that doesn’t stop, good size that also has the speed and skill to go with it, plays all three zones well, excellent passer and can score. Watching his highlights, I’m reminded a great deal of Chris Drury, especially in his skating.
There is no doubt that Patrick doesn’t contain the game breaking, once-in-a-generation style skill that Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews both possess, but he’s a player that still has all the necessary skills to be a star in the NHL. Young blood should be a mainstay on the Avalanche next season, and if it’s a player like Patrick, with all the above qualities, then it’s really hard to find a reason not to draft him. About the only reason to not draft him I can think of, assuming that the Avalanche are going to keep the top overall pick, is that the Avalanche believe another player has higher end talent. All in all, if the Avs do keep the top pick, it’s really hard to not like Nolan Patrick as the guy.