Devils on the clock with No. 1 pick in NHL draft

"So, whatever happens happens and I'll be honoured to go anywhere".

After having a run of local players selected in recent years-from Tucker Poolman to Gage Ausmus to Luke Johnson to Paul LaDue-none are expected to go this year. That's nothing. Going out of your element on a baseball diamond? "I'm happy he is here because I can ask him everything, on and off the ice".

But the 18-year-old native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, apparently isn't much of a baseball fan.

"I think it's a really good draft", Devils Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron said. Who could blame him?

Hextall could consolidate some of his lower-round picks (including No. 44 in the second round) into a package and try to move up in the draft.

Still, Patrick was impressed by the honor and setting on a sunny, 74-degree day at the home of the reigning World Series champions.

Still, on Wednesday, Patrick seemed to be enjoying himself, not letting the weight of the moment be a burden, not letting nerves set in at all in regards to the draft. When you've got three, it's harder.

"I couldn't get my conditioning back to where I wanted it to be", he said.

"I've had a few people tell me to take this off", Vilardi said.

The debate for the New Jersey Devils at No, 1 overall will finally be settled, when they likely choose between forward Nolan Patrick or forward Nico Hischier.

The top picks have also been some of the NHL's elite players as four of the past five Hart Trophy (MVP) winners were taken at No. 1 overall.

"Maybe Patty and Nico know a little bit about it but other than that I think it's pretty wide open with all the trades", said Mittelstadt, the third-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

"We expect the draft will produce a lot of good National Hockey League players, and we want to get as many of those as possible", assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. "If I was four or five last year, or one this year, it doesn't matter to me".

That level head Nolan keeps is in his genes.

The first player Vegas drafts will be known forever as the first player Vegas drafted.

Patrick said he is fully recovered from the two sports hernias that affected his play last season and limited him to just 33 games.

"His main thing is to have fun and don't get caught up in it". He's been huge for me, my uncle's been huge for me, so those are the two guys who have helped me the most in my career. The team exceeded expectations in 2015-16, posting a 38-36-8 mark and staying in contention until the final two months as goaltender Cory Schneider and forwards Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique had big seasons. Teams must then sort through Juuso Valimaki (19 goals, 60 points in 60 games for Tri-City of the WHL), Callan Foote (51 assists, 57 points in 71 games for Kelowna of the WHL) and European professionals Miro Heiskanen and Timothy Liljegren. The eyes of scouts bulged a year later when he scored 41 goals and 102 points in 72 games.

The unpredictability of the draft really shows itself in the defense group. At maximum, they don't want to go more than two years out with a vet contract.

Patrick called Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a fellow centre and Winnipegger, an inspiration.

For his part, Hextall has pointed out the historical truth that pre-draft consensus isn't always proven right five or six years down the line as to whom the best National Hockey League players turn out to be. The free agent defenseman class, outside of Kevin Shattenkirk, for whom I would doubt that Shero will enter into a bidding war, is weak. He did not rule out moving up but said the Golden Knights were focused on drafting three players in the first round.

"I don't know what's going to happen or where I'm going to end up", he said. "That's someone I've watched since I was younger, and tried to take parts of his game and use it to my advantage".

Here he is on this sun-splashed Wednesday afternoon, along with fellow National Hockey League draft prospects Nolan Patrick and Casey Mittelstadt, standing on the sacred dirt of revered Wrigley Field, a place oozing with history thanks in part to the past heroics produced by names like Sandberg and Sosa, Banks and Bryant, Rizzo and Russell, and, of course, the pride of Chatham, Ont., Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins.

But the work will just be beginning when either Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick - barring an unforeseen pick - strides to the podium shortly after 7 p.m. on Friday night at United Center in Chicago. After a stunning role reversal turned the up-and-coming Broadstreet Bullies (sarcasm) with a middling draft pick into the second overall draft pick holding Broadstreet Lottery Winners, the future in Philadelphia looks very bright. This is the first time they've drafted as high as No. 2 since 2007 (James van Riemsdyk). He fell from 23rd in the mid-term rankings.

  • Julie Sanders