Tonight’s the night! The big one, anyway. The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is upon us in Chicago. This year, unlike last year, there is plenty of speculation on which order the top 2 prospects will be taken, if they’re taken in the top 2 at all.
With the likes of Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine last year, the buzz was entirely on Matthews until Laine exploded when the calendar turned to 2016. Matthews, of course, still went first and Laine took up the #2 slot. Then there was pick #3, who still greatly matters as it’s the first pick that will truly be a mystery after the first two are taken.
Who even was the 3rd guy again last year? Oh yeah, Pierre-Luc Dubois, who went to Columbus and still hasn’t cracked their roster. Nothing against him, it’s just that Matthews and Laine were kind of elite players that went on to do exactly what was predicted: blow the entire NHL away with their goal scoring and overall performance in the NHL.
So who will be the top 3 picks to be taken?
New Jersey, with Pick #1 Will Select…
My bets are on Nolan Patrick. With 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games during the 2016-2017 season with the Brandon Wheat Kings and a +9 rating, this kid has what the Devils need, an NHL ready goal scorer. Why? Because if you look at the numbers they remain consistent when weighed against the games he played when he wasn’t battling injury. He had 102 points in 72 games the previous season which is a far clearer picture of what he’s capable of. His hockey IQ is high and his strength and puck responsibility is what got him into the top draft class. If I were Ray Shero, I’d be picking Patrick over Hischier.
That leaves Philadelphia with Nico Hischier another beast of a player, with 38 goals and 48 assists last season in 57 games. Yes, you read that right. His a goal-scoring machine, which is exactly what Philadelphia will be happy about when he slides into their hands at #2.
And as a bonus, let’s just go ahead and say hulking Finn Miro Heiskanen will be taken 3rd by the Stars.