Forward Nolan Patrick (Winnipeg, Man.), who skates for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, has been named the top draft-eligible skater for the 2017 NHL Draft. Forward Nico Hischier (Naters, Switzerland), a center for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, follows closely at No. 2.
Patrick averaged more than a point per game this season (20-26-46 in 33 GP) despite missing significant time due to injury. In 2015-16, he was named MVP of the WHL Playoffs after helping Brandon win its first championship in 20 years. From a hockey family, his father, Steve Patrick, played 250 games with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques from 1980-86, while his uncle, James Patrick, skated in 1,280 NHL games.
Hischier - who looks to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history (Nino Niederreiter: 5th overall by NYI in 2010) - led QMJHL rookies with 38-48-86 in 57 games this season and added 3-4-7 in six playoff contests. He was named the QMJHL Rookie of the Year and awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league's Best Professional Prospect.
Joining Patrick and Hischier among the top five-ranked skaters from North America are a group of skilled forwards: No. 3 Casey Mittelstadt (Edina, Minn.), a center for Eden Prairie High School (HIGH-MN); No. 4 Gabriel Vilardi (Kingston, Ont.), a center for the Windsor Spitfires (OHL); and No. 5 Michael Rasmussen (Surrey, B.C.), a center for the Tri-City Americans (WHL).
Forwards Klim Kostin (Penza, Russia) of Dynamo Moscow and Elias Pettersson (Sundsvall, Sweden) of Timra maintain their ranks of first and second, respectively, among international skaters.
Jake Oettinger (Lakeville, Minn.) of Boston University (H-EAST) ranks as the top North American goaltender, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Espoo, Finland) of HPK's junior team (FINLAND-JR) tops international netminders.
The final rankings feature the top 217 skaters and 31 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 140 skaters and 13 goaltenders internationally.
In its 42nd year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs nine full-time and 15 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing internationally, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.
Combined, NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Services will see in excess of 3,000 games this season.
The full final rankings in all categories are available here
The 2017 NHL Draft will be held June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago, marking the first time the Blackhawks and city of Chicago will host the event.