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AAtJ Staff Chat: Nico vs Nolan Roundtable Discussion

June 14th, 2017 at 11:40 AM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Nico is on the left, Nolan on the right. Gabe Vilardi is the guy in the middle, but we don’t care about him.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

CJ: Greetings, gentlemen. We gather here today to discuss the Devils 1st overall pick. The debate is between Brandon Wheat Kings Captain, Nolan Patrick who I profiled here; and the Swiss Sniper from the QMJHL, Nico Hischier, who Brian profiled here. I thought it’d be a good idea for us each to give just give a couple sentences each at the onset here on who we’d select with the biggest reason(s) why so the readers can know where we’re coming from. I’ll start.

General thoughts

CJ: For me, it’s Nolan Patrick because he’s been a better player over a longer period of time to a degree that exceeds any possible risk of injury. Nolan’s first season was the most impressive of either player, Nico’s status as the #2 prospect was springboarded by a small-sample WJC performance, and the argument for #1 is fueled largely by recency bias.

Gerard: I have to be the first one to oppose here, as I think Nico Hischier should be the choice for our New Jersey Devils. While there could be some recency bias, I think it’s also important to remember that this past year was Nico’s first on North American ice and he excelled on a “meh” Halifax Mooseheads team; prior to joining the Halifax, he was playing for SC Bern against men in the highest tier of the Swiss hockey system where he never seemed out of place. I also believe that he has the potential to be a more dynamic player based on footage of his game compared to Patrick’s and I think right now we need players with higher ceilings.

Alex: I have to double down on what CJ said, I think Nolan Patrick is the guy. In terms of what we have seen on the ice, I believe that Patrick has the higher floor. I know Gerard just mentioned Hischier may have the higher ceiling, and that’s possible, but you simply cannot miss on this pick. While both could turn out to be can’t miss guys, Patrick has been doing it longer, and in the hard-hitting WHL to boot. Give me that security blanket, even with the injuries.

Brian: In my opinion, Nolan Patrick should be the choice for the Devils. I feel that he is the superior two-way player that is more well rounded than Nico Hischier. I also weigh Patrick’s success since breaking out in the WHL in his age 16 season higher than Hischier’s track record in Switzerland and lone QMJHL season. I don’t find the injuries too concerning at this point when weighing it against his potential. As CJ mentioned earlier, I think there is some recency bias at play which is making this a very tight debate.

John: My choice would be for Nico Hischier. Hischier has exactly what the Devils need in a top-tier prospect: a glorious mix of creativity, intelligence speed, and talent on and off the puck. While Nolan Patrick would generally fit the criteria for a top prospect, Hischier is slightly younger, almost as big as Patrick, and does not have an injury history like Patrick, which is a massive red flag. This pick for New Jersey needs to be a success. Therefore, I give the edge to the Swiss man coming out of Halifax.

Mike: I’ll go ahead and tie it up here and say I’d prefer to see the Devils draft Nico Hischier at first overall. He strikes me as a more dynamic player on offense who can create in a multitude of ways. Nolan Patrick certainly has plenty of talent in his own right but when you watch Hischier, he just seems to have that extra level that separates him from the other players on the ice. And while a lot of discussion about Patrick centers on his all around game, Hischier is highly regarded in that aspect as well. It’s certainly close, but I lean Hischier, and while Patrick’s injury history may end up being a blip in the long run, it’s enough to give me pause and push me fully into Nico’s camp for the first pick.

Teams of AAtJ Writers

TeamTeammate 1Teammate 2Teammate 3
TeamTeammate 1Teammate 2Teammate 3

CJ: Well it’s all tied up boys. Teams are set. Let’s get to arguing! After each section, I will summarize what was said. This will necessarily involve paraphrasing, but I’ll try to keep my personal biases out of it.

First, in favor of Patrick, how about you start us off Brian?

Arguments For Nolan Patrick

Brian: I feel that Nolan Patrick is a more well rounded player than Nico Hishcier. Patrick just screams “franchise center” to me with his skill, large frame, and defensive play. Offensively, Patrick is less flashy than Hischier but has elite hockey sense, a strong and deceptive shot, and solid passing ability. I really like that he’s able to use his build to win board battles, protect the puck, and muscle through defenders to create opportunities for his teammates. For a player with top end offensive skill, I also think he brings an above average defensive game to the table. He’s very competitive, understands where to position himself, and is aggressive in breaking up plays. That’s another area where his large frame becomes an asset for him. The production he’s put up since breaking into the WHL full time in 2014-15 has been remarkable. Both of these prospects are special talents, but Patrick is an excellent two-way player that is capable of playing in all situations.

CJ: I obviously agree that Patrick is the best two-way player. Having watched the full 6-game shift-by-shift package of Nolan Patrick posted on my profile, and the 2 full games posted by dthomas53 here on AAtJ (No.1 and No. 2) I think I would say that Patrick is a truly special talent with or without the puck. Nico is a special offensive talent and merely a solid defensive one. And I think the fact that Nolan is such a good defender and we call him “two-way” has led some people to sour on him as an offensive talent. I believe he is every bit as impactful in the offensive game as Hischier, but Hischier’s skating ability gives him more flash. With regards to offensive attributes, I’d give vision, shot, and positioning all to Patrick. Passing may be a push, but I’d lean Patrick. Hischier I’d give skating and stickhandling. Anyone severely disagree with any of those?

Alex: I would have to agree with CJ on that breakdown, but again I am on the same side, so I would have someone else comment on it in more depth. I am really impressed with what I see from him cerebrally. He said he loves to watch three forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Anze Kopitar, and Jamie Benn. Benn is your sniper, so he watches him to improve his offensive game, namely his shot. He watches Backstrom who is the ultimate playmaker and distributor, and he watches Kopitar who is your two-way, defensive minded center. I want my franchise player to be a student of the game, not just an athletic freak, and Patrick is absolutely intense when it comes to studying and learning and growing mentally. Where does he get help from this too? With his lineage. While a minor detail for sure, having NHL bloodlines is nothing to scoff at, and has certainly helped him grow and will continue to do so. While the major analysis should be done with on-ice performance, don’t forget about these areas as well.

Summary of Nolan Pros:

  1. Well-rounded, stellar two-way player
  2. Sustained production over two years
  3. Huge offensive impact â?? underrated due to “two-way” label and lack of “flash”
  4. Hockey IQ and lineage.

Rebuttals and Arguments Against Nolan Patrick

John: The biggest concern for Nolan Patrick is his list of injuries. As cited in CJ’s profile of Patrick, the center has suffered a broken collarbone, two groin injuries, an upper-body issue that kept him out through the end of the WHL season, and not one but two sports hernia injuries. One was known; he had surgery for it. Patrick revealed at the combine that he had a second one that he did not get surgery for to address. This means that Patrick’s shortened season involved him playing through a significant injury. This also means that it’s a big unknown as far as how much Patrick will recover. A reader, njd23mp, commented twice (one, two) in CJ’s profile …

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Tags: Brian profiled here, He said, Hischier posted a 1.21 primary point per game rate with Halifax., I profiled here, Jayce Hawrlyuk and Ivan Provorov in Brandon like he did in his outstanding 2015-16., No. 2, No.1, Patrick revealed at the combine that he had a second one that he did not get surgery for to address., Patrick’s primary point per game rate of 0.91 is quite good., Rhys Jessop’s formula, Vollman’s conversions, Vote Now

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