It was a dream come true for Nolan Patrick when the Brandon Wheat Kings drafted him fourth overall in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. The Winnipeg native not only got the opportunity to stay living in his home province, but he also got the chance to play for the same major junior team as his father, Steve Patrick, did in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
“It was an exciting time when the draft happened,” says Patrick. “It’s great to stay close to home in Manitoba and it’s pretty cool to play for the same team as my dad.”
Selecting Patrick was practically a no-brainer for Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon. He was bringing in a towering forward, who now stands 6-foot-3, 183-pounds, coming off an outstanding season of bantam ‘AAA’ hockey, where he scored 33 goals and 75 points in 19 games with the Winnipeg Hawks.
"I think he's a tremendous player. I think he does possess a lot of room of development," McCrimmon said shortly after drafting Patrick. "We think he'll continue to improve and he'll a great junior and a successful pro after that."
With his father going on to be a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres following three successful seasons in Brandon, Patrick hopes to bring the saying “like father, like son” to life. He knows, however, that he has a long ways to go before matching his dad’s hockey resume.
“I hope to follow my dad’s footsteps, but I have a lot of work to do,” he says. “He was drafted in the first round and played in the NHL and I’m only getting started, so I have a lot of work to put in first."
Having a father who has been there and done that is without question a benefit to Patrick. He’s fortunate enough to get quality hockey advice around the dinner table.
“It’s great to have (a dad with NHL experience) because he gives me great advice and helps me a lot with tips,” says Patrick. “He shows me ways to improve my game all of the time and it definitely helps my game.”
Patrick’s smooth transition to midget puck this past year seems to be a strong indication that he could make a notable impact as a rookie in the Dub this upcoming season. He scored at well over a point-per-game pace with 33 goals and 63 points in 39 games for the Winnipeg Thrashers.
“I’m pretty happy with how the year went,” says Patrick, who turns 16 in September. “I started off kind of slow, but I got better as the year went on. I owe some credit to my linemates for helping me out along the way.”
Patrick has already checked off score first WHL goal on his to-do list. He netted his first major junior marker last season when he suited up in three regular-season games with the Wheat Kings.
“It was a good feeling to get the first one,” he says. “I actually had a goal disallowed in my first game, so that was disappointing, but it was good to get one a little later.”
1. Who’s your favourite NHL player?
“I like (Dallas Stars forward) Jamie Benn. He’s a big and strong forward that can score. I want to be a player like that.”
2. Do you have a favourite NHL team?
“I like the Stars because Benn is my favourite player and my uncle (James Patrick) is a coach for them.”
3. If you weren’t focusing on hockey, what other sport would you pursue?
“Probably golf. That’s my second favourite sport and something I like to do in the summer.”
4. What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
“My favourite movie is Lone Survivor and my favourite TV show is Dexter. They’re pretty good shows that keep you interested.”
5. What type of music do you like to listen to before a game?
“The music isn’t a big deal to me. I’ll listen to what the boys want to listen to.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen