The NHL Combine is in the books and in less than three weeks it will be time for the Dallas Stars and other NHL teams to draft their next round of prospects. As of right now, the Stars hold the third overall pick, their highest selection since the move to Dallas in 1993. Will the Stars keep the pick or move it in a deal to upgrade the roster? Time will tell.
What we do know is that players will be selected. While there are no so-called generational players like a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews in this year's draft, there are some good prospects available. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll take a look at some of the top players up for grabs in the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held in Chicago June 23-24.
First up is center Nolan Patrick, who is considered the No. 1 prospect in this year's draft. Red Line Report, an independent scouting service, describes Patrick as "extraordinarily well-rounded for his age with zero holes in his game."
Patrick has had some hernia issues over the past year, which led to him missing extended time in 2016-17, and he's been pushed for first overall by center Nico Hischier. But Patrick remains at the top of almost all the draft lists. Would he be available to the Stars if they pick at No. 3? Probably not. But he's considered by most to be the top player in this year's draft and is worth knowing.
Height/Weight: 6-2/198 pounds
Born: September 19, 1998
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Manitoba
2016-17 Team: Brandon (Western Hockey League)
NHL Central Scouting: 1st among North American skaters
International Scouting Services: 1st among all skaters
TSN: 1st among all players
The Hockey News: 1st among all players
Red Line Report: 1st among all players
ESPN: 2nd among all skaters
Patrick recorded 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games with Brandon of the Western Hockey League. But he was slowed by injuries, missing half the WHL season and the 2017 World Junior Championship due to sports hernia issues. Patrick also missed the WHL playoffs due to a leg injury. But he is 100 percent now and looking at this past season as a learning experience.
'It was tough, but at the end of the day I think it will make me stronger as a player," Patrick told reporters at the NHL Combine. "I don't think adversity for someone my age is the worst thing and I think it will make me stronger as a player and a person."
Patrick ranked second in the WHL in scoring in 2015-16 with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists). He registered 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 playoff games and was named playoff MVP as Brandon won the 2016 WHL championship. He won a gold medal with Canada's Under-18 team at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, registering five points (two goals, three assists) in five games. Patrick was the WHL's Rookie of the Year in 2014-15 after tallying 56 points (30 goals, 26 assists) in 55 games. His father, Steve Patrick, played 250 NHL games with Buffalo, New York Rangers and Quebec. His uncle, James Patrick (former Stars assistant coach), played 1,280 NHL games with New York Rangers, Hartford, Calgary, and Buffalo.
"He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player. The poise, the presence, the attention to detail, the way he processes and executes plays - everything has been far more precise, far more accurate and a lot quicker this season." - Dan Marr, Director NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
"He's got a good understanding of the game, has been taught good fundamentals from a young age. There are a lot of guys who don't seem to have that understanding of the effort it takes to play at a high level with and without the puck. Nolan Patrick does." - Matt Ryan, NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
"He's a player without a glaring flaw, as he'll be what you want in a top-level center: a two-way forward with skill, size and intelligence who can contribute in all areas of the game." - Corey Pronman, ESPN (ESPN.com)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.