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2017 NHL Draft: 5 Picks to Watch
2017 NHL Draft: 5 Picks to Watch

The offseason moves quickly in the NHL Draft 2017 . Less than two weeks after the Pittsburgh Penguins secured their second consecutive Stanley Cup, the NHL will hold its annual player draft.

https://nhldrafts.org/

 

The event will take place at the United Center in Chicago, and it will be conducted Friday and Saturday. The first round gets underway at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBCSN, and while this draft does not have a Connor McDavid or an Auston Matthews to headline the event, there are a number of excellent players who are likely to become impact players.

Will they burst on to the scene and dominate in 2017-18? Probably not. But they will make things happen in the foreseeable future.

The power brokers of the NHL have packed up from Las Vegas after Wednesday's awards show and expansion draft. Now, it's on to Chicago, where the 2017 entry draft will kick off with the first 31 selections on Friday, followed by Rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

The draft is the NHL Draft 2017 Live culmination of a lifetime's worth of work for the prospects who are waiting to hear their names called. For the teams, good drafting is more important than ever in the salary-cap era. It's crucial to be able to fill roster spots with inexpensive young talent in order to balance the big contracts that have been handed out to veterans and stars.

It's not just about the kids, either. Draft weekend has also become a stage for trades.

Expect to see plenty of action this weekend, on the big board and the draft floor. Here are 10 important moments to watch for.

One year ago it looked like a slam dunk that Nolan Patrick would be the next elite center to follow in the footsteps of Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews as the No. 1 pick in 2017.

Patrick has the size and the bloodlines and was coming off an excellent 2015-16 season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He finished in the top five in WHL scoring, then led the league in playoff scoring while helping Brandon earn a WHL title and a Memorial Cup berth.

But a double sports hernia limited Patrick to just 33 games in the 2016-17 season. He wasn't able to play at the World Junior Championship or in the WHL playoffs—the two most important showcases for draft-eligible prospects.

While Patrick was sidelined, NHL Draft 2017 Live Stream Switzerland's Nico Hischier seized the moment with an outstanding performance at the World Juniors, then followed up with an excellent second half of the season. Shifty and clever with the puck, he started to be seen as a legitimate rival for Patrick. When TSN's Bob McKenzie released his final draft rankings Monday, Hischier had climbed to No. 1.

Momentum is on Hischier's side, but history says that Patrick will still go first overall. New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero holds that first pick and will use it on the tried-and-true Canadian with hockey running through his veins rather than the talented Swiss upstart.

He's not big. Cale Makar is listed at 5'11" and 187 pounds on the final draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting.

He hasn't competed at hockey's top levels. Makar has spent his last two seasons manning the blue line for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League—one step below major junior.

Regardless, scouts have fallen in love with Makar's strong skating and impressive puck-handling skills. He projects to be a future power-play quarterback at the NHL level—a highly desirable skill set in a league where goals are becoming increasingly hard to generate.

Though NHL Draft he's ranked ninth among North American skaters by Central Scouting, Makar's popularity is surging in the lead-up to draft day. One NHL scout even ranked him ahead of Patrick and Hischier as the best prospect in the entire draft, according to Bob McKenzie.

Per Matt Battochio of Global TV, forward Joe Colborne holds the record as the AJHL player drafted highest into the NHL. The big center was selected 16th overall in 2008 by the Boston Bruins and has gone on to play 275 NHL games for three NHL teams.

Makar will almost certainly set a record on Friday. Look for his name to be called in the top NHL Draft Live five—he could even be a surprise selection in the top three.