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NHL Draft

Injuries shouldn't hurt Nolan Patrick on Draft board

NHL Central Scouting director expects center to remain top-rated prospect

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The status of Brandon center Nolan Patrick was one of the many talking points heading into NHL Central Scouting's final meetings to determine the top North American skaters and goaltenders eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.

Patrick, No. 1 on Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, missed 35 games with an upper-body injury in the regular season and all four games of the Western Hockey League playoffs against Medicine Hat with a lower-body injury.

Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, has maintained since the release of its midterm rankings in January that Patrick and center Nico Hischier of Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are the top players in this year's draft.

Have the injuries to Patrick enabled Hischier to pass him on the draft board? Marr said he does not think so.

"Nolan's situation is part of the game and for NHL clubs it's a talking point in draft deliberations," Marr said at the meetings, which began Thursday and end Tuesday, "and from many recent discussions with NHL personnel it will have absolutely no negative implications or bearing on Nolan's Draft status."

Hischier had 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 regular-season games and has six points (three goals, three assists) in five QMJHL playoff games.

Video: Morreale joins the show to talk NHL Draft prospects

NHL Central Scouting will take into account the full body of work for each player before reaching a decision. 

"Injuries are part of hockey and it's unfortunate for Nolan that he's having to miss playing due to injury during his draft year," Marr said. "The injuries Nolan incurred require time to heal and rehabilitation. He is expected to fully recover."

Early in his draft season of 2011-12, center Alex Galchenyuk sustained a knee injury while with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League. He played two regular-season games and was No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of North American skaters. The Montreal Canadiens chose him at No. 3 and have enjoyed the benefits.

Galchenyuk is the highest-scoring player drafted in 2012, with 202 points (88 goals, 114 assists) in 331 NHL games entering Saturday. 

Patrick's availability for the start of the season was in question after he had surgery in mid-July for a sports hernia. He played five games and sustained an upper-body injury that kept him out until Jan. 13. 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.

"He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and he will be an impact NHL player," Marr said.

Last season, Patrick was fifth in the WHL with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 72 regular-season games. He tied for the WHL lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 WHL playoff games and was named the most valuable player of the playoffs while helping Brandon win the championship.

It's safe to assume that, with a good health record, Patrick will be at the top of every draft list. He served as the second-youngest captain in the WHL this season and has the size (6-foot-3, 198 pounds), strength and vision NHL teams crave. 

He probably has the best hockey sense of any prospect in this year's class.

"NHL teams are accustomed to slotting these players and everyone will do their due diligence," Marr said. "There will be a lot of information available on Patrick. They'll meet with him and interview him at the NHL Scouting Combine and review the medical records."

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