News broke tonight, December 5th, that the projected number one overall pick for the 2017 NHL Draft, Nolan Patrick, will NOT play in the upcoming U20 World Juniors Tournament.
Nolan Patrick, a 6’3” 198 pound right-handed center from Winnipeg, Manitoba has only played six games for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League this season as an 18 year old. For NHL teams near the bottom of the league, this news has to be unnerving. Patrick will still probably go first overall, but this is not what you want to see out of your newest potential franchise center.
Timothy Liljegren on the other hand is a 17 year old 6’0” 198 pound right-handed defenseman from Kristianstad, Sweden who plays for Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League. Liljegren started this season with a bout of Mononucleosis and was most recently left off the preliminary roster for Team Sweden’s U20 World Junior roster in favor of 16 year old defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Dahlin will be a name to remember for the 2018 draft. Liljegren being left off of Sweden’s roster combined with his bout with Mono and play so far this SHL/SuperElit season could lead to a Jakob Chychrun like drop for Liljegren.
In a draft already described as being weak, the woes of these players has to have teams looking for their next big phenom, this is eyebrow raising material. On the flip side, both players could easily put their time off behind them and put on a clinic for their teams and continue to do so at the draft combine.