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2017 NHL Draft Preview: Profiles of Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier and Miro Heiskanen

Is it likely that the Hurricanes will welcome one of the top prospects to the club next month? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to know them anyway.

Nico Hischier 2017 NHL Draft scouting report | SB Nation NHL D...

After a breakout performance at the 2017 World Juniors, Nico Hischier could be the first Swiss player taken first overall.

Posted by Canes Country on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We are less than one month away from the 2017 NHL Draft, with the first round taking place Friday, June 23rd in Chicago, and the second through seventh rounds scheduled for the following day.

Due to their late season push for the playoffs and the Philadelphia Flyers’ luck that allowed them to jump from their projected 13th overall draft spot up to second overall, Carolina will pick 12th in the first round. Although this has been a draft scrutinized by some as not having a high amount of top-end talent, the draft should be deep in players who can help out an organization and provide depth to an NHL lineup in the future. At 12, the Canes should be able to add another piece to the puzzle who will help them to continue to strengthen their prospect group moving forward.

Over the next month, we’ll be putting out scouting profiles of specific prospects that you could potentially see pulling on a Hurricanes sweater on stage next to Ron Francis in the Windy City. For the first in this series, we start with the players who should hear their name coming off the board early, examining the top prospects available at the draft. These are players that, unless something unexpected happens like a trade up, will likely be selected in the top-10. Just in case, here’s an opportunity to get acquainted.

Nolan Patrick – C, Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL - 6’2” 200 lbs - 9/19/98

To start the season, Patrick was the odds-on favorite to be selected first overall in this year’s draft. However, as happens many times in the scouting spotlight, a prospect’s game begins to be picked apart and his position overthought. Injuries plagued Patrick through his draft year, which limited him to just 33 WHL games, and kept him off Canada’s silver-medal winning World Junior squad.

Patrick’s game is all about consistency. He does everything at an above-average to high level combining his elite hockey IQ with power and skill. He makes high-percentage plays, both in possession and when getting his teammates involved, and doesn’t waste a ton or movement or take unnecessary risks to do so. Typically you can find Patrick at or below the circles where he routinely uses his NHL-level shot to score goals. He’s a guy who projects to play in all situations in the NHL as a two-way center.

Projection: All-Star Level Center

Likely Fits: New Jersey, Philadelphia

Nolan Patrick 2017 scouting report | SB Nation NHL Draft Match

Nolan Patrick may be the top pick at the NHL Draft in June, and whoever selects him will get a nearly NHL-ready player.

Posted by Canes Country on Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nico Hischier - C, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL - 6’1”, 175 lbs - 1/4/99

Hischer has ascended to the top of the first round, and placed himself into the conversation for first overall through his terrific play both internationally and in junior hockey this season. His 86 points in 57 games were tenth in the QMJHL and first among draft-eligible players, and his seven points in five games at the 2017 World Juniors propelled Switzerland to wins over the Czech Republic and Denmark.

Hischier’s compete level is incredibly high and is a lethal combination when paired with his elite skill level. Unlike some players with his talent level, he is committed to winning pucks back and playing on the defensive side of the puck. Hischier is a rare player who, despite regularly being the best player on the ice, works to get his teammates involved.

Philadelphia will gladly take the leftover of Patrick or Hischier as a consolation prize at number two. Not bad for a team that finished just seven points out of a playoff spot last year.

Projection: All-Star Level Center

Likely Fits: New Jersey, Philadelphia, Dallas

Miro Heiskanen - D, HIFK, Liiga - 6’0” 170 lbs - 7/18/99

The Finnish rearguard has used a terrific U-18 Tournament this month to cement himself as a near lock to be the first defenseman taken in Chicago. He is a complete player, who moves effortlessly around the ice and has the ability to be a difference maker in all three zones. Heiskanen is sound defensively, and has the ability to transition the puck either by skating out of trouble or pinging breakout passes to his forwards.

He has a little bit of Duncan Keith in him, given his stature at just over six feet tall and his ability to make simple smart plays to help his team each time on the ice. Heiskanen exemplifies the modern defenseman with his IQ, skating ability and poise. He shouldn’t need much time to make his jump to the NHL, given his successes both in Liiga and on the international stage.

Projection: Top-four, if not top-pairing all-around defenseman

Likely Fits: New Jersey, Dallas, Colorado

Coming tomorrow: a look at three more prospects who will likely go early: Casey Mittelstadt, Owen Tippett and Gabriel Vilardi.