While it didn’t have the star power of the 2016 or 2015 versions, the 2017 Draft class has still made some noise this season. There are certainly a number of players who have stood out for their respective teams as we move past the middle of December. We’ll take a look at three of those players who have been with the big club this season.
#1 overall pick – Nico Hischier
Key to the turnaround in New Jersey was the luck of the draw–the Devils were fortunate to grab the #1 overall pick–sporting only an 8.5% chance of nabbing it. There were rumors they would go defense but general manager Ray Shero went with Hischier, who has rewarded their trust with five goals and 20 points. Though he’s gone his last five games without a point, the rookie has been a much needed boost for the Devils, who are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the crowded Metropolitan Division. Some have wondered if he’s beginning to hit the proverbial rookie wall. All would agree, however, that the Devils are a much better team with Hischier in the lineup.
#2 overall pick – Nolan Patrick
Patrick was projected a number one pick for the draft when projections came out back in 2016, but his stock dropped slightly as Hischier’s presence on the world stage captured attention. Further, Patrick’s hernia injury that sidelined him in juniors raised questions about his durability. The Flyers snagged him second, and within the first week, Patrick underwent surgery prior to the draft and it turned out to be more serious than anyone expected. He recovered, and started the season in Philadelphia before spending time on the IR at the beginning of November. With six points in 22 games, it’s too early to tell with Patrick. Health, as has been the concern from the start, will truly dictate if Patrick becomes the player the Flyers envisioned when taking him second overall.
#10 overall pick – Owen Tippett
The winger with a wicked shot played seven games with the Florida Panthers before they sent him back to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. In those seven games, Tippett recorded one goal. Sun-Sentinel writer Craig Davis reported back in November that while general manager Dale Tallon called it a “tough” decision to send him back to junior hockey, there simply wasn’t an opportunity for the youngster to get quality minutes at the NHL level. Since going back to Mississauga, Tippett is over a point-per-game, notching 16 points (6-10) in 15 games.