In the days leading to the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top centers available.
The New Jersey Devils have the No. 1 pick at the 2017 NHL Draft, but their decision on who to select won't be an easy one.
Brandon center Nolan Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, in part because of his productivity in three seasons in the Western Hockey League. Halifax center Nico Hischier (6-1, 178) was No. 2 because of his seamless transition from his native Switzerland to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.
"They're both impressive young men when you talk to them," Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said. "They're both high-character, they're going to be very low-maintenance type of players for a team. One or two here, if those are the guys, you're getting some players that are going to be with your franchise for a long time."
Here are NHL.com's top 10 centers available for the 2017 NHL Draft:
The right-handed shot was limited to 33 games because of injuries, including a sports hernia that sidelined him for 35 games. But he had 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists), and was named the top professional prospect in the Canadian Hockey League. Patrick has the hockey sense, vision and skill to one day serve as a top-line NHL center.
Video: Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier on the Combine, Draft
Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting compared Hischier to Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom because of Hischier's elite skill and hockey sense combined with a compete level that allows him to be effective in any style of game. A left-shot forward, Hischier won the Mike Bossy Trophy (best professional prospect), and Michel Bergeron Trophy (offensive rookie of the year) in the QMJHL after he had 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games.
The 6-3, 202-pound right-handed shot makes players around him better with his relentless compete level and elite hands below the faceoff circles. Vilardi had 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 49 games, won 51.1-percent of his faceoffs, and tied for the Windsor lead in power-play goals (eight). He can create in traffic and played center and on the wing this season. He had seven assists in four games to help Windsor win the 2017 Memorial Cup last month and is No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
Glass (6-2, 177) primarily was a top-line center but the right-shot forward also saw time on the wing this season. He's a player who appears to be in constant motion, has good hands and is opportunistic in the offensive zone. He had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) 69 regular-season games, and nine points (four goals, five assists) in 11 WHL playoff games. He's No. 6 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
A good two-way forward, Andersson (5-11, 200) had 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) and a plus-21 rating in 42 games against older competition in the Swedish Hockey League. A left-handed shot, Andersson has good hockey sense and is solid on faceoffs. His father (Niklas) and uncle (Mikael) played in the NHL and now are NHL scouts. He's No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.
Mittelstadt (5-11, 199), who will attend the University of Minnesota in 2017-18, was named All-USA Player of the Year for the second straight season after he had 72 points (23 goals, 49 assists) in 30 games regular-season and playoff games for Eden Prairie. The left-handed shot also had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 24 games for Green Bay of the United States Hockey League. His elite skill and compete level enabled him to impact and produce against all competition, and Central Scouting had him No. 3 in its final ranking of North American skaters.
The right-handed shot captained the Czech Republic to its first gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August and had six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. Necas (6-1, 178) is mobile, smart and can carry the puck. He had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 41 games for Brno in the top Czech league. He's No. 5 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.
Pettersson (6-2, 164) centered the top line for Timra in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, and had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) and a plus-15 rating in 43 games. The left-handed shot has great offensive instincts and a good understanding of the game. He's No. 2 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.
A wrist injury sustained in February limited the 6-5, 221-pound left-handed shot to 50 games this season but he still had 55 points (32 goals, 23 assists). He led Tri-City with 15 power-play goals and tied for the team lead with five game-winning goals. He's No. 5 in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
Suzuki (5-11, 183) is No. 10 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, up from No. 16 in the midterm rankings that were released in January. In 65 games he had 96 points (45 goals, 51 assists), the third-highest total of the 356 players on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American and international skaters. He also led Owen Sound with five shorthanded goals.