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Top prospect Nolan Patrick 'not nervous' about NHL Draft

Center, likely to be chosen with first or second pick, throws out pitch at Cubs game

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Nolan Patrick threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, two days before the center is expected to be one of the top two picks in the 2017 NHL Draft.

"I was more nervous about [the pitch] than the upcoming NHL Draft," Patrick said.

Patrick, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, is in town for the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas at United Center. The first round is Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN). The New Jersey Devils have the No. 1 pick; the Philadelphia Flyers have the No. 2 pick.


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"I'm not nervous or worried about what will happen," Patrick said. "I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't go where I want to go. At the end of day, I don't have a preference. I'm just excited to celebrate that moment with the people that mean the most to me in my life."

Patrick, a center for Brandon of the Western Hockey League, and prospects Casey Mittelstadt of Eden Prairie High School (Minnesota) and Gabriel Vilardi of Windsor (Ontario Hockey League), received Cubs jerseys with their last name stitched on the back.

Mittelstadt is No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, and Vilardi is No. 4. Halifax center Nico Hischier, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final North American list, was unable to attend.

Video: Top Prospect Nolan Patrick Mic'd for Cubs First Pitch

Cubs relief pitcher Justin Grimm was behind home plate for Patrick's pitch, which went to the left of the strike zone.

"I threw one pitch in my backyard as warmup before I arrived in Chicago [on Tuesday]," Patrick said. "I just wanted to be sure to throw better than Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent when they had their chance at a first pitch a while ago. I didn't want to be a hero; just throw it down there."

Mittelstadt said, "I'm happy Nolan had to [throw out the first pitch]. We've been talking about it and I think he was a little nervous. We'll laugh about it later."

Vilardi, who wore a Toronto Blue Jays cap, said he enjoyed the experience at Wrigley Field.

"I grew up in Kingston, Ontario, and followed the Blue Jays a bit," he said. "[Wrigley Field] is amazing. The game is almost an hour away and the stadium is half packed already, so that's cool."

Mittelstadt said jokingly that his father, Tom, played baseball and football at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

"He's probably jealous that I'm on the field," the younger Mittelstadt said. "I think he played second base in college. He had to manage two sports in college and I didn't end of playing either one of those sports, so we'll see what he has to say about that."

Video: Prospects Patrick, Vilardi, Mittelstadt visit Wrigley

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