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May 01, 2017

2017 NHL Draft: For Flyers, pick could come down to Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier

The Flyers had some lottery luck over the weekend and will pick second overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. They jumped up to that spot despite having only a 2.4 percent chance of landing it. The odds are slightly different, but the NHL draft lottery was pretty crazy: The NBA equivalent would be Orlando, Denver, and the Sixers (via Sacramento) getting the top-three picks.

Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, this isn’t supposed to be a draft with top-end star power with rough equivalents to Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. Here is what ESPN Insider’s Corey Pronman wrote a few months ago about the relatively weak draft crop:

“Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, this year's top two prospects, likely would be in the discussion for the No. 3 to No. 5 range in the past two drafts.”

Chatting with the local media over the weekend, Ron Hextall disagreed with that assessment:

“This isn’t as bad a draft as people say it is,” Hextall said. “We’ve been preparing recently like we had the 13th pick and we felt like with the 13th pick we were going to get a good player. So, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be. It’s probably an average draft, the last couple of drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft.”

Regardless of how strong the draft actually turns out to be, the Flyers will certainly benefit from moving up into the top-three. And as Pronman alluded to, it’s generally considered a two-horse race at the top with a couple of centers: Patrick and Hischier.

And if those two remain at the top, Hextall will have the easiest job in Chicago on draft night. All he will have to do is wait for which one of Hischier and Patrick New Jersey drafts and then take the other player.

In Craig Button’s first mock draft for TSN, he forecasts the Devils selecting Hischier, the skilled Swiss center, which means that the 6’3”, 198-pound Nolan Patrick would fall to two:

“And when you think about Nolan Patrick, the general manager, Ron Hextall, of the Flyers is from Brandon,” Patrick said. [Ivan] Provorov played with Nolan Patrick. I think it’s the perfect fit for the Philadelphia Flyers, a big centerman. They’re loaded on the blue line so Patrick fits in their nicely.”

Patrick did play with Ivan Provorov for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Here is a discussion that Button had with Bob McKenzie about “Nolan vs. Nico” a few months ago:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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