It’s been a pretty good start to the season for presumptive 2017 NHL draft No. 1 pick Nolan Patrick.
Patrick recorded six points in his first three WHL games, figuring in on six of the eight goals his Brandon Wheat Kings scored heading into their Sunday night contest against the Swift Current Broncos.
The production has been excellent for the 18-year-old Patrick, who was named captain of the Wheat Kings on Friday. And the power-forward center displayed the types of skills Saturday that will make him highly coveted next June.
It happened on his second goal of the season just 12 seconds into the second period in Brandon’s 5-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels.
Patrick stripped Rebels defenseman Alexander Alexeyev of the puck in the corner and bulled his way towards the goal. He beat St. Louis Blues prospect Adam Musil to the net, allowing him to get a shot off on goalie Trevor Martin. Martin stopped the initial chance, but the rebound floated in the air. Patrick whacked the puck in before it even began to descend, and before Anaheim Ducks pick Josh Mahura could tie his stick up.
Patrick is the focal point of the Wheat Kings’ offense. But, then again, that’s nothing new to him.
Selected fourth overall in the 2013 WHL bantam draft, Patrick scored 30 goals as a rookie in 2014-15. He became the first 16-year-old to hit that mark in the WHL since Prince George Cougar Brett Connolly did so in 2009. The feat earned him league rookie of the year honors.
Last season was even better. He finished fifth in scoring with 102 points – not to mention 41 goals – becoming the first 17-year-old Wheat King to reach the century mark since Ray Allison and Brian Propp did so in 1976-77. He then had 13 goals and 30 points in 21 playoff games, earning the MVP nod as Brandon won the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The 6-foot-3, 198-pound center had off-season sports hernia surgery, forcing him to miss the Canadian World Junior summertime camp. However, if the start of the WHL season is any indication, Patrick is back to his old self.