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NHL Draft

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier in spotlight

Eyes will be on NHL Central Scouting's top two players at CHL Top Prospects Game

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec -- Brandon center Nolan Patrick and Halifax center Nico Hischier, the top two players on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters, will be prime targets for NHL scouts attending the 2017 Sherwin-Williams Canadian Hockey League/NHL Top Prospects Game at Videotron Centre on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports).

They are two of the 40 top prospects for the 2017 NHL Draft from the CHL playing in the game, but they will be under the microscope for different reasons.

Patrick (6-foot-3, 198 pounds), who will captain Team Cherry, missed 35 games because of a groin injury. The right-shot center is out to prove he's 100 percent healthy and that NHL Central Scouting got it right when they ranked him No. 1 among North American skaters. 

Since returning to the lineup Jan. 13, Patrick has scored four goals and eight points in five games. He has eight goals and 17 points in 11 games this season, his third in the WHL. He'll center a line with left wing Jake Leschyshyn of Regina of the WHL and right wing Owen Tippett of Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League on Monday.

Patrick said the Top Prospects Game isn't about determining if he or Hischier is more worthy of being the first pick of the 2017 draft. 

"I think the media makes more of [Patrick vs. Hischier] than it actually is," Patrick said. "I'm not going out there just trying to battle against him. I'm going out there to focus on my game and play as well as I can.

"Maybe this game is important to me in order to show I'm back at full speed. You never want to be injured and out 35 games, but I'm feeling good, feeling 100 percent and feel as though I'm starting to get back into the swing of things."

Patrick scored 41 goals and 102 points in 71 regular-season games in 2015-16, then led the WHL playoffs with 30 points in 17 games to help Brandon win the league championship. He was named the most valuable player of the WHL playoffs.

"There's no franchise-type player in this draft and even the No. 1 consensus pick, Nolan Patrick, had the injury factor so there are still questions," said Dallas Stars director of amateur scouting Joe McDonnell. "That said, Patrick is a big, strong center and can skate well. It's just a matter of his development and getting more experience and strength. But he has all the pro attributes that you're looking for."

Hischier (6-1, 176), who will captain Team Orr, has opened plenty of eyes this season. The Switzerland-born forward, in his first season in North America, is tied for third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 33 goals and fourth with 68 points in 40 games. He also was the best 2017 draft-eligible player at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, with four goals and seven points in five games for Switzerland.

He'll center a line with left wing Nikita Popugaev of Prince George of the WHL and right wing Kailer Yamamoto of Spokane of the WHL.

"In the end it's still a hockey game and there are 20 guys on each side so you have to have fun; that's the most important thing," Hischier said. "I know Nolan is a great hockey player. He has good hockey sense, good hands and a good shot so there aren't many things he can't do so for sure I think he's a good player."

 

CHL/NHL TOP PROSPECTS GAME PROJECTED LINEUPS

TEAM CHERRY

Jake Leschyshyn (Regina) -- Nolan Patrick (Brandon) -- Owen Tippett (Mississauga)
Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville) -- Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor) -- Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound)
Antoine Morand (Acadie-Bathurst) -- Robert Thomas (London) -- Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia)
Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph) -- Mackenzie Entwistle (Hamilton) -- Ivan Lodnia (Erie)

Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Charlottetown) -- Callan Foote (Kelowna)
*Cale Fleury (Kootenay) -- Artyom Minulin (Swift Current)
Antoine Crete-Belzile (Blainville-Boisbriand) -- Henri Jokiharju (Portland)

Ian Scott (Prince Albert)
Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge)

 

TEAM ORR

Nikita Popugaev (Prince George) -- Nico Hischier (Halifax) -- Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane)
Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City) -- Cody Glass (Portland) -- Kole Lind (Kelowna) 
Alex Formenton (London) -- Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie) -- Stelio Mattheos (Brandon)
Matthew Strome (Hamilton) -- Alexander Chmelevski (Ottawa) -- Nate Schnarr (Guelph)

Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City) -- Markus Phillips (Owen Sound)
Nicolas Hague (Mississauga) -- Conor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie)
Jacob Paquette (Kingston) -- Eemeli Rasanen (Kingston)

Alex D'Orio (Saint John)
Michael DiPietro (Windsor)

*-- replacing Jarret Tyszka (Seattle), out because of injury

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