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NHL Combine

Nolan Patrick says missed sports hernia cost him chunk of season

2017 Draft prospect vows he'll 'be 100 percent healthy after the summer'

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Brandon forward Nolan Patrick, a top prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft, said a missed sports hernia was a reason he missed 35 games this season.

Patrick had surgery in July to repair a sports hernia on his left side, but he said Friday that doctors missed one he had on his right side. He recovered well enough from the surgery he did have to be in Brandon's lineup for the first five games of the season but didn't play again until Jan. 13.

"I had two at the same time, and they missed the one on the other side," Patrick said at the NHL Scouting Combine. "I'm not disappointed. The doctor, he's trying to do the best job that he can."

Patrick said he should have had a second surgery, but he didn't fault the doctors who missed his second sports hernia.

"I don't think it's the worst thing for me," he said. "I think a little adversity for a young kid makes you stronger as a player. I didn't talk about it at all during the year in the media that I was misdiagnosed or anything like that. I just tried to focus on my game."

Patrick told NHL.com on Wednesday that he passed all his medical tests and is fully cleared to take part in the fitness testing at the combine. On Friday, he went through the Vo2 Max stationary bike test, which measures a player's endurance. He'll go through the remainder of the tests Saturday.

"I wanted to do all the testing here, so I'm happy," he said. "I think every NHL team looks at the testing a little differently. I just wanted to take part in it. It's a one-time experience coming here, so I wanted to do it all."

Patrick also said he wouldn't be holding back in any of the testing.

"I'm not trying to prove anything," he said. "I'm just going to try to test to the best of my abilities."

When Patrick was healthy, he showed enough for NHL Central Scouting to rank him No. 1 among North American skaters in its final rankings for the 2017 draft.

He had 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games, his average of 1.39 points per game 10th in the Western Hockey League this season. He was named the best professional prospect in the Canadian Hockey League.

In 2015-16, he was fifth in the WHL with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 72 regular-season games, and tied for the league postseason scoring lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 games. He was named the most valuable player of the WHL playoffs after leading Brandon to the championship.

In three full seasons in the WHL, Patrick has 204 points (91 goals, 113 assists) in 160 games.

"[Patrick] has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and he will be an impact NHL player," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said.

Patrick said he'll spend the offseason continuing to work on strengthening his body and getting ready for training camp with an NHL team.

"I can 100 percent guarantee you … that I'll be 100 percent healthy after the summer," he said. "I'm going to get stronger, faster and my goal is to make the jump to the NHL next [season]."

The New Jersey Devils have the No. 1 pick of the 2017 draft, which will be held at United Center in Chicago on June 23 and 24. Patrick met with the Devils at the combine, and he said New Jersey general manager Ray Shero visited with him at his home in Winnipeg. Although Patrick said it would be an honor to be the top pick, he isn't spending time thinking about it.

"I'm doing everything I can to get [to the NHL]," he said. "Not going to let anything get in my way. That's my goal. I'm not a huge guy to set goals, but I've had that one for three years."

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