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Top prospects visit Wrigley Field to begin Draft week

Nolan Patrick throws out first pitch before Chicago Cubs game

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

Video: DRAFT | Prospects visit Wrigley

CHICAGO, IL - Nolan Patrick is used to performing on a big stage, but today, that stage was a little different than the one he's accustomed to.

Instead of a hockey rink, Patrick, along with other top prospects Gabriel Vilardi and Casey Mittelstadt, donned the white with blue pinstripe jerseys of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Patrick took the mound with ball in hand, and although he planned to throw a "high lob" as the first pitch, his toss only had a bit of arc to it, and it was a strike.

Video: DRAFT | Nolan Patrick

For the Winnipeg native, today was another memory to soak in as the first round of the NHL Draft gets closer.

"It's nice to have my family down and some of my good buddies. It's going to be a good couple of days here," said Patrick. "I'm just having fun with it. I'm not in a rush to get the Draft overwith. It's something you only go through once in your life. I'm just going to take it day-by-day here and have fun."

Mittelstadt and Vilardi accompanied Patrick to the mound for the pitch. Vilardi, the fourth ranked North American Skater, arrived at the park sporting a black Toronto Blue Jays hat.

"I've had a few people tell me to take it off… Maybe they'll give me a free hat hopefully," grinned the Memorial Cup champion Vilardi.

He didn't have to wait long. All three prospects were given a matching Cubs hat to go with the jerseys they received.

Video: DRAFT | Gabe Vilardi

The 18-year-old Mittelstadt is coming off a season where he racked up 21 goals and 64 points with his hometown Eden Prairie High School team, and added another 30 points in 24 games with Green Bay of the USHL.

After he moved up from a midterm ranking of fifth to third on NHL Central Scouting's list by the end of the season, he's trying to take in every experience he can this week. But he thinks his parents are anxious to find out what team will select their son on Friday.

"I think maybe for my mom and my dad, they might be ready to get it over with," said Mittelstadt. "I think they're excited and a little nervous to see what happens."

Video: DRAFT | Casey Mittelstadt

With the opening pitch behind them, the three prospects stayed at Wrigley to watch the Cubs try to wrap up a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres.

"They're both great guys. It's fun to come out and try new things with them," said Mittelstadt. "We obviously have a lot in common, growing up and playing hockey and things like that. It's definitely cool to meet new guys any chance you can."

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