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NHL Draft

Devils prospect would choose former teammate Nolan Patrick with top pick

John Quenneville pulling for New Jersey to select center, whom he played with in WHL, in NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- New Jersey Devils prospect John Quenneville knows who he would suggest if asked his opinion on who the Devils should select with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

It would be right-handed center Nolan Patrick, his former teammate in Brandon of the Western Hockey League.

The Devils will have that opportunity after winning the NHL Draft Lottery and getting the No. 1 choice at the NHL draft which will be at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24. The lottery results were revealed on Saturday. The Devils, who had an 8.5 percent chance at winning the lottery, will choose No. 1 for the first time since moving to New Jersey in 1982-83. They moved up from No. 5.

"He's a star and everything you really want in a player," Quenneville told in March. "He's strong, fast, makes plays and has a great shot. He's smart and he's a good defensive player, has a good stick. I could really go on all day about him."

Video: Devils, Flyers, Stars earn top three picks in lottery

Patrick, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, tied for the WHL scoring lead with 30 points in 21 WHL playoff games and was named the most valuable player of the playoffs, helping Brandon win the championship in 2015-16.

Quenneville, who had four points (one goal, three assists) in 12 games for the Devils this season, saw Patrick at his best in 2015-16 when he ranked fifth in the WHL with 102 points (41 goals, 61 asissts) in 72 regular-season games.

"He can play a physical game, any type of game," Quenneville said. "He's got a little bit of jam in his game and can fight if he needs to. He's good on the penalty kill and good on the power play; he's a first-line NHL center."

Quenneville had 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 57 games playing with Patrick in 2015-16, and wasn't surprised to learn Patrick, 18, was the second-youngest captain in the WHL this season.

"I always felt that one of your best players should be your captain," Quenneville said. "You're always going to look up to guys who are the best players on the team. It's just the way it works. Everyone wants to play like a star player and if you're playing at his level, you're going to have a better team.

In addition to Patrick, center Nico Hischier of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is another option for the Devils. Hischier, No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as offensive rookie of the year in the QMJHL after scoring 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games in his first season in North America.

Patrick's availability for the start of this season was in question after he had surgery in mid-July to repair a sports hernia. He played five games and sustained an upper-body injury that kept him out until Jan. 13. He missed all four WHL playoff games for Brandon because of a lower-body injury that was unrelated to the previous injury. He finished the season with 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) and a 1.39 points-per game average in 33 games. He has 205 points (92 goals, 113 assists) in 163 career WHL games.

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