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CHICAGO – There was one thing running through Nolan Patrick’s mind as he watched New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero announce Nico Hischier as the No. 1 overall pick Friday night.
“I hope I go second,” he said.
Patrick did, and now he’s a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The top two picks have formed a friendship over the last month as they traveled to various events like the NHL combine and Stanley Cup Final. Both obviously wanted to go first overall, but Patrick is fine with where he ended up.
“I wasn’t sitting there rattled,” he said. [Hischier] went. I was happy for him. He’s an awesome guy. I’m happy how things played out.”
It’s tough to rattle the 18-year-old center, who posted 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games this past season with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. The months of projections and speculation are now over and Patrick isn’t feeling any bitterness at the Devils for passing him over.
“I think me and Nico are completely different players. I think he might a little more offensively dynamic than me. I think I might be a little more defensively than him,” Patrick said. “They wanted him. It’s not like I’m sitting here mad wishing I went to Jersey. They didn’t want me, so it doesn’t matter too much to me.”
A lot of focus as draft approached was placed on a sports hernia injury that cost Patrick 35 games this season. He underwent two surgeries, and with the weight of owning the No. 2 pick the Flyers had him visit their own doctors just to get reassurance of his health.
“You never want to be injured, especially in your draft year,” Patrick said. “Obviously that was a tough year for me, but I think it makes me stronger as player and adversity at this age doesn’t hurt. I’m just going to move on from there and get ready for next season.”
Like all of the prospects drafted this weekend, Patrick’s goal this summer is to get bigger and stronger to help improve his chances of making the NHL roster training camp. He’ll get his shot to stick past the nine-game mark of the regular season which, to Patrick, will be the first step toward his ultimate goal.
“I think every hockey player wants to win a Cup. It’s my main goal is to win a Cup in my NHL career,” he said. “If I have a chance to do that that’d be unbelievable.”
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