Pressure on Patrick to hold top spot in 2017

Aaron Vickers2017 Draft Center, QMJHL, WHL

Nolan Patrick, the floor is yours.

Patrick, who has been ranked first overall at Future Considerations since the preliminary list was released last spring, is back on the ice for the Brandon Wheat Kings after missing three-and-a-half months because of an upper-body injury, and will be front and center at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Monday.

His body of work in 2016-17 had been just six games, with four goals and nine points, before firing off four points in his return against the Kootenay Ice on Jan. 13.

That’ll help, undoubtedly.

But it’s his body of work done over the two previous seasons that has helped Patrick retain his title as top prospect for the 2017 NHL Draft in the Winter ranking.

Not that he cares.

“I haven’t really had too much time to think about it,” Patrick said after his two goal, two assist outburst in his return. “I’ve been injured the whole year. I haven’t been doing much to change anything there. My main focus is kind of my rehabbing so I didn’t look too much into that stuff.

“It doesn’t bother me. In the end if a team wants to draft me and they like me I’ll be honoured to go anywhere. It doesn’t bother me.”

The 18-year-old has 71 goals and 158 points in 127 regular season games with the Wheat Kings over the past two seasons. He has 21 goals and 45 points in 49 career playoff games — including a WHL-best 30 points in helping Brandon to the Ed Chynoweth Cup as League champions last spring.

Not surprisingly, Patrick was also named playoff MVP.

Not a bad way to cap a 41-goal, 102-point season.

And with a resume like that it’s not hard to fathom why Patrick gets the benefit of the doubt.

But it’s his game that adds to that.

Patrick plays a mature, heady two-way game and has some strong bloodlines. The combination of size, speed and skill is unmatched, at least to this point, among his peers in the draft class.

The challenge now falls on Patrick.

A challenge the Brandon captain will embrace as the top target in the Top Prospects Game.

It’s on him to show, once again, why he’s No. 1.

And he’s well on his way to doing so.