Colorado Avalanche: Nolan Patrick Making a Great Case for the No. 1 Pick

Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Nolan Patrick has been dominating recently. He’s making a stronger case game by game to stay solidified as the No. 1 overall draft choice this summer.

If the world were perfect, and based off results, the Colorado Avalanche would be guaranteed the No. 1 overall pick this summer. However, the world doesn’t work that way, and the Avs are by no means guaranteed the first overall draft pick this summer.

Still, the Avs are the most likely to end up with that pick because there is no way they are catching the Arizona Coyotes down the stretch.

With the first pick, the choice for the Avs will come down to Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how the Colorado Avalanche should draft Nico Hischier instead of Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick.

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In fact, most of the articles I’ve written about the 2017 NHL draft are all based on how the Avs should avoid drafting Nolan Patrick.

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This next one does highlight their need for a right-handed shot in the top six, but it doesn’t specifically say that Patrick is the guy.

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Even my co-editor Nadia Archuleta is not too pumped about the prospect of the Avs receiving the first overall draft choice.

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However, the more I watch what Nolan Patrick is doing this season, the more I think the Avs would be crazy to pass up on him.

Nolan Patrick Can Play the Wing

Patrick is definitely a gifted center, and it would be a shame to take him from his natural position, but the Avs just do not need another center. What they need badly is a right-shooting right winger.

Mikko Rantanen has played the right wing for most of this season, and he is billed as a off-wing shooter. However, so was Patrik Laine until he made the shift to right wing, and since he has it’s been… well it’s been magic.

So, moving Rantanen to the left side at some point might be something the Avs consider. The point is, beyond Rantanen, the Avs do not have a right winger, and it’s questionable if Rantanen should even stay on that side.

Really, the Avs don’t have any top six wingers beyond Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog, but the right side hole is worse than the left.

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At least next season the Avs will likely have the addition of A.J. Greer and J.T. Compher on their roster. Both are left-handed, both have the potential to play in the top six and both can play the wing.

Who do the Avs have coming up on the right side? Jean-Christophe Beaudin — who just signed an entry-level contract with the Avs — but he is not likely to make the top six.

In other words, the Avs have no top-flight right-handed forward talent emerging in their system, and that needs to change.

Luckily, Nolan Patrick could be the one to change that.

Should Nolan Patrick Play the Wing?

Most high-end centers who join the NHL the year they are drafted generally play the wing their first year.

It’s what Nathan MacKinnon did and it’s what Patrick Kane did. Patrick Kane ended up staying at right wing — his off wing — but Nathan MacKinnon eventually went back to center.

So, if the Avs do draft Nolan Patrick this year, then he is likely to play right wing to start the season at least. And who knows, he could end up sticking at the wing like Kane did.

Really, the only reason to keep a player at center is if they are defensively sound. Centers have the biggest defensive responsibility on the ice aside from defensemen.

They have to take important face-offs, and they are always supposed to be the first forward back on defense. They also have to play below the net a lot, and win important battles along the boards behind the net at both ends of the rink.

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Nolan Patrick is described as an extremely reliable two-way center, so it would be a shame to take him from that position.

However, he could also utilize that two-way skill appropriately on the wing. The only thing that he wouldn’t have access to would be taking face-offs. Nonetheless, most players take awhile to develop their face-off skills.

Matt Duchene is second in the NHL in face-off percentage this year, but he’s not too far removed from his first three seasons, when he averaged a winning percentage of 48.5 percent.

The same goes for Nathan MacKinnon, who has averaged a 47.9 percent winning percentage over his first four years. Even Auston Matthews — who started his NHL career at center — has a 46.4 percent winning percentage this year.


At this point — and I know I said the Avalanche should draft Hischier instead — Patrick seems to be the best fit for the Avs.

He’s a right-hand shot, which the Avs need desperately. He plays a two-way game. He’s a big body at 6 foot 3 and 200 pounds. And, Patrick has been the consensus No. 1 overall pick for 2017 since at least last year.

Plus, it’s very likely that he could develop into a real effective two-way right winger. He can also skate, he can shoot and he can reeallllly pass the puck. Witness:

That third pass by Patrick is absolutely perfect.

The Avs could use some passing ability like that on MacK’s right wing. I’m not saying that’s where Nolan Patrick would play next season, but he will eventually make it up to the top line.

The thing is, the Avs have trouble scoring goals already, so maybe they don’t need another playmaker.

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However, I have this feeling that Nathan MacKinnon is hiding a 40 goal scorer in him somewhere. He shoots the puck on net at a ridiculous clip, but sports an awful 6.0 percent shooting percentage.

Having a playmaker on his right wing, and a power forward like Landeskog on his left could really help MacK develop into a superstar.

We’re a long way off from the NHL draft, but speculation is one of the only things keeping us Avalanche writers going at this point.

Nolan Patrick could be a difference maker down the line. However, the fact of the matter is that the Avs are probably looking at another rough season next year. Who’s the top prospect for the 2018 NHL draft?