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Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profile: #1 – Nolan Patrick

We’ve reached the end of the glorious Nation Network prospect profiles for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with the first ranked prospect, Nolan Patrick.

Coming off an injury plagued off season and regular season, there are a lot of questions and debate about whether Patrick truly is the best prospect in this draft. But there is little doubt that he presents the most complete skillset that could step into an NHL lineup this September.

Let’s finish off this fantastic series with a look at Brandon Wheat Kings centre Nolan Patrick

Bio:

  • Age: 18-years-old, 1999-09-19
  • Birthplace: Winnipeg, MB, CAN
  • Position: C/RW
  • Handedness: R
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 198 lbs
  • Draft Year Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Stats:

pGPS S pGPS N pGPS % pGPS P/82 pGPS R
28 56 54.3% 50.7 27.5

Read about pGPS here.

Scouts:

NHL (CSS) ISS Future Considerations HockeyProspect McKenzie McKeen’s Pronman Button
1 1 1 1 N/A 1 2 2

From Future Considerations:

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….his slap shot has high-level accuracy and velocity…a ruthless presence off the puck, simply overpowers his opponents…a great leader, commanding respect with his work ethic and consistent high level of play…willing to stand up for his teammates and bring justice as he sees fit…beats teams with his IQ and seems to always be in control of the play…a number-one NHL center in the making.

Dan Marr, Director of NHL CSS

He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player. The poise, the presence, the attention to detail, the way he processes and executes plays – everything has been far more precise, far more accurate and a lot quicker this season

Our Take:

It’s important to distinguish draft rankings and ‘mock drafts’. Just because Patrick is rated as the best prospect in this draft class does not mean that we think he will go first overall. Unlike last season where the questions about Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine at first overall were unfounded because it was clear that Matthews was the right choice at number 1. This year presents some questions because of Patrick’s injury history over the past 12 months.

Suffering through two Sports Hernia’s, Patrick missed most of the start of the WHL season and the 2017 World Juniors. He returned and then suffered a leg injury that resulted in missing the WHL playoffs. He is now fully healthy and using it as a learning experience but the questions about his long term health are there. When it comes to the NHL Entry Draft, if there is a player with a better track record for injuries, like Nico Hischier, then a team may pass on Patrick for a more sure bet.

That doesn’t reflect on Patrick as a player, just merely an effect of the market. But it is a bit unfounded. Patrick is 100% healthy and the injuries shouldn’t reoccurring, just poor timing.

What Patrick does have in his favour is 163 career WHL regular season games, 49 playoff games, and Ivan Hlinka appearance. All of which have been very good and shows what type of player he is.

That is an effective 200 foot player who can help his team in all three zones. He isn’t particularly dynamic or ‘brings you out of your seats’ but after a goal, you come to the realization that it was all done by Patrick.

He seems to be constantly in control of the puck and play – forcing it to play at his pace. The Winnipeg native is a very smart player using everyone around him to create plays. It isn’t so much about what he does on his own, but what happens with his teammates.

Patrick is a leader on and off the ice, wearing the C for the Wheat Kings this past year after being an alternate during the 2015-16 season. He was also the captain of the Canada Red U17 team in 2014-15. He isn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates and drop the gloves in his own defence. Those intangible parts of his game are an important part of who he is as a player.

If there is one thing that is worth mentioning, it is that he just does everything so well, that not one particular skill stands out. That is likely why a more dynamic player like Hischier has jumped into the conversation as the first overall pick. Hischier has made a flashy and dominant performance noticeable, while Patrick has just kept doing what he does. Which is being a extremely good centre.

He concluded this WHL season as the 2nd best PPG rate amongst first time draft eligible WHL forwards:

If you compare that same groups draft minus one season, Patrick is well ahead of everyone else. It’s important to remember that he was recovering from an injury throughout the first parts of his season and then got injured again. If you look at all CHL draft eligible forwards:

He ranks 4th in points-per-game, but rates very favourably in both goals and assists per game. So despite an injury plagued year, he kept up with the best. If he was healthy, it’s fair to assume that he would’ve vaulted himself higher even though Brandon experienced some player graduation.

He ended the year with 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games. That is a 43 goal, 57 assist and 100 point pace, all of which would’ve been in the upper echelons of the WHL. His 0.91 primary points per game were ranked 6th amongst WHL draft eligible forwards.

When it comes to pGPS, it does paint an interesting image. With 54.3% of comparable players going onto become NHL regulars and with a wide spread of how successful they were. It’s worth noting that Patrick’s pGPS for his D-1 season (2015-16) was 100%, and his D-2 season (2014-15) was 66.7%. Both of which came with higher expected P/82 games than the 50.7 listed above.

Based solely on his production and size, most of his matches were a middle six player. It’s fair to expect that Patrick will end up a top 6 centre in the NHL.

For the most part, Patrick improved his line mates GF% when paired with them:

Stelio Mattheos with the most startling difference – an anchor to Patrick.

The P60 WOWY re-affirm this thought process.

There a lot of factors in play when it comes to Nolan Patrick this year. The track record, injury concerns, other players showing well and the lack of ‘pizazz’ to his game.

If the injuries never happened, there likely wouldn’t have been any question. But they happened and it has to be taken into consideration.

All of that shouldn’t cloud the judgement that Patrick likely presents the best long term value at this draft. He may never be that player that wow’s you or blows you away but he will quietly go about his business helping the team win.

Due to the NHL/CHL agreement, Patrick will have to play in the CHL or NHL next season. It’s safe to expect it will be the latter of the two.