ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Nolan Patrick is the No. 1-ranked North American skater on the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings list. The Avalanche has the fourth overall selection at the draft.
After missing the eligibility cut off for the 2016 NHL Draft by a mere four days due to his birthday (Sept. 19, 1998), Nolan Patrick was ready for another year with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. However, the 2016-17 season was brutal for the star center and team captain as he battled multiple injuries. He made the best of it and didn't stop proving himself worthy of a high draft pick into the NHL.
Patrick was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings in January and stayed on top for the final list when it was released in April, despite being limited to only 33 games this past year due to the injuries.
"He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and he will be an impact NHL player," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.
At the NHL Scouting Combine, Patrick opened about his recent injuries in greater detail, which began with an upper-body injury at the start of the season. He later had a sports hernia injury misdiagnosed. He had surgery on his right groin muscle, but he also had a similar injury on his left side that went undetected early on and did not heal until after the season when he went through another surgery.
Video: Top prospect Patrick on staying focused, having fun
Despite his injuries, Patrick still managed 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points on the season for a strong 1.39 point-per-game average. This performance helped him be named the top professional prospect in the Canadian Hockey League.
"I'm 100 percent healthy," Patrick said to NHL.com at the combine. "Not many people know what happened with my injuries, so it was kind of staying positive and getting through it. I'm confident I can play a full season without getting injured; I'm confident in my abilities."
In his rookie season as a Wheat King in 2014-15, he put up an impressive 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) in 55 games, which included tallying the most goals by a first-year player in the league and being named the WHL Rookie of the Year.
The 6-foot-2 forward also has had success on the international stage.
During the 2015-16 campaign, he made the Canada under-18 team that participated at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and went on to register three goals and two assists in five games en route to a gold medal. At the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2014, he was named captain of the Canada Red and scored five assists in the tournament.
It is no surprise the 198-pound Winnipeg native is talented. Athleticism is in his blood.
He is the son of former NHL player Steve Patrick and nephew of former NHL player James Patrick. Nolan's father played for Brandon and was selected at No. 20 by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Steve played for the Sabres, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques before retiring in 1986 after six NHL seasons. James Patrick was chosen ninth overall by the New York Rangers in 1981. He skated two seasons at the University of North Dakota and played professionally for 21 seasons until 2003-04, splitting time between the Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Sabres.
His mother was also quite the athletic star, just not in hockey. Carrie (Chernomaz) Patrick, played volleyball at the University of Winnipeg and was on the roster for Canadian national team. She would have played for the Canada women's volleyball team at the 1996 Summer Olympics were it not for a torn ACL.
His father is not as convinced that his son's skills are due to good genetics.
"Nolan is confident in his game and extremely smart on the ice," Steve Patrick said to NHL.com. "That didn't come from me. That's him."
Video: Altitude profiles Nolan Patrick
Genetics or not, NHL teams and scouts are impressed by Patrick's abilities.
"He's got a good understanding of the game, has been taught good fundamentals from a young age," said Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting. "There are a lot of guys who don't seem to have that understanding of the effort it takes to play at a high level with and without the puck. Nolan Patrick does."
Through all the buzz, attention and spotlight, Patrick refuses to let it change him or influence his game.
"When I'm on the ice I'm not thinking about the draft," the forward said to NHL.com. "I'm just thinking about contributing to the team and getting the win. Obviously there are a lot of things in the media that you see, but I don't feel too much pressure."
How does he choose to relax from the pressure? Just like many other 18-year-olds, Patrick loves scrolling through Instagram (@npatrick19), binge watching Homeland and wishes he could "carpool karaoke" with 2017 NBA champion Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
For him, sometimes it's just about staying loose and having a good time. That is something his father ensured his son has done.
"He also has to remember to make sure he's having fun in whatever he's doing," said Steve Patrick.
When draft day in Chicago finally comes, expect Nolan Patrick to come in calm and ready to be one of the top picks.