BUFFALO -- Now that NHL general managers and scouts have done their due diligence at the NHL Scouting Combine, it's time to determine the right fit for their organization at the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24.
Earlier in the week, NHL.com asked fans to submit questions via Twitter to staff writer Mike Morreale and deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman using #NHLDraft.
Does New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero, or anyone on the Devils staff, seem to be leaning toward a certain player? -- @NJDDiehard
Morreale: I can tell you with great certainty that the Devils will not draft a goaltender with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. There are only two logical choices here. It's Brandon center Nolan Patrick or Halifax center Nico Hischier. Shero has told me that the Devils will choose the player with the highest upside and not necessarily one that will fill a specific positional need. Patrick scored 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 72 games as an underage player in 2015-16. He then led the team in the WHL playoffs with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists), was named playoff MVP and helped Brandon win the Western Hockey League championship. Injuries limited him this season, so we probably haven't even seen the best from Patrick. He's a strong right-handed shot with fantastic hockey sense, and he plays with an edge. That's just what the Devils need.
Who stylistically fits the Philadelphia Flyers better: Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier? -- @maxmiller188
Kimelman: It's close, but I would say Hischier. The Flyers are a very straight-line offensive team, and Hischier would bring some needed creativity and elusiveness in the offensive zone.
Video: Top prospect Patrick on staying focused, having fun
After Jake Oettinger of Boston University, what are your thoughts on some other top goalie prospects in the draft? -- @QuacktorDavis
Morreale: It's a strong, deep goalie class, probably more so this year than in the past. I feel a big reason for that is because most of the goalies at the top all played significant roles with their teams and that's something that usually takes time. There's a lot of depth, and I feel that a few of the goalies chosen will make strong cases to be No. 1 goalies in the NHL someday. That excites NHL teams a lot more.
In addition to Oettinger on the North American side, Keith Petruzzelli of Muskegon in the United States Hockey League reminds scouts a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray because even when in the butterfly he can protect the upper corners. Ian Scott of Prince Albert in the Western Hockey League is excellent post-to-post and smart at reading the cross-ice pass. Michael DiPietro of Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League really elevated his status during the Memorial Cup championship run. He's smaller in stature (6-foot, 200 pounds), but boy can he stop the puck. He reminds me of Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick because he's so athletically gifted.
Among the international goaltenders, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of HPK in Finland would be my first choice. He was great at the World Under-18 Championship; he shows good instincts and plays calm and relaxed. It doesn't hurt he's 6-foot-4, 196 pounds. One other sleeper goalie to keep an eye on is Olle Eriksson Ek (6-2, 183), the younger brother of Minnesota Wild forward prospect Joel Eriksson Ek. He's very confident, has a good glove and is strong on his feet.
Any gut feeling on who the Detroit Red Wings will take at No. 9 in the draft? -- @JJ_Hanke
Kimelman: I spoke with a Red Wings scout at the Combine and my feeling is all things being equal, they'll take a center. While defense also is a need, the best defensemen are on the small side and as the scout said to me, "We have the market cornered on small defensemen." Cody Glass of Portland is an intriguing option if he's available. He had 94 points in 69 games this season, and while he's 6-2, 178 pounds now, there's room for him to mature physically. Martin Necas of Brno in the Czech Republic also is undersized (6-foot, 167 pounds) but is a high-energy offensive player who already has 41 games of experience against men in the top Czech league.