No. 1 picks tell draft prospects to savour the experience
From pucks to Ping-Pong balls.
In the end, both will play the determining factors in where the lives of Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier and the other top NHL draft prospects of 2017 go from here moving forward.
To this point, it has been their marvellous hockey skills — specifically, what they can do out on the ice with that little rubber disc — that have made these teenagers the most coveted talents of various NHL teams heading into the upcoming June draft in Chicago.
Now, their eventual destinations will be contingent on how the balls play out in the NHL draft lottery, which takes place Saturday evening in Toronto.
The lottery will kick off an intense seven-week period leading up to the draft in which these NHL wannabes will be prodded, tested and interviewed ad nauseam before they find out which team picks them at Chicago’s United Center June 23-24.
In order to give this year’s crop of prospects some advice on how to handle the upcoming flurry of activity, Postmedia enlisted the opinions of four former first overall selections on how to best cope with what awaits in the next two months and beyond.
Toronto Maple Leafs
First overall, 2016
“My advice would be to enjoy the whole experience. It’s something that happens just once in your life.
“You have to cherish it as it goes by. It’s a whirlwind. The lottery, the combine, the draft, just try to soak in every minute of it. It’s going to be an exciting time for them.”
First overall, 2005
“It’s an anxious time. It’s an exciting time. It’s really a time that you start to get excited knowing that the anticipation of where you are ranked and where you might end up.’’
Crosby’s draft year was unique in that the NHL was coming off a season that was wiped out by the lockout of 2004-05.
As such, the draft order was determined by lottery in which teams were assigned 1 to 3 balls based on their playoff appearances and first overall draft picks from the previous three years.
The result: all 30 teams had a shot at drafting him, leaving Sid The Kid with no idea where he might end up.
First overall, 2004
“One guy can’t change a team on his own. The only people that can change a franchise is the whole team. Everybody. He can be better but the guys around him have to help him a lot.
“My first year, I had a great team. They helped me with everything. Lifestyle, all kind of stuff. So I hope for that kind of future star, the experienced leaders and veterans have to help him.”
New York Islanders
First overall, 2009
“(Being called a saviour) is tough. The game is so competitive now. You see the contributions from teammates and the depth teams that win Stanley Cups have and the impact it has and the sacrifices everyone makes. Enjoy the game, love the game like you always have, and go out there and live the dream. This is what you’ve been waiting for your whole life.”