The Chicago Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cup championships in the past six seasons, will host the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and team president John McDonough made the announcement Thursday at United Center. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and NBCSN NHL television analyst Eddie Olczyk were also on hand.
Chicago has never hosted the draft in the 53-year history of the event. The 2016 draft will be held at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., on June 24-25.
"Anytime an NHL event is held in an Original Six city it adds to it the historical element of the NHL and with Chicago hosting the 2017 Draft, their storied history at the Chicago Stadium and their success at the United Center will bring home to all NHL fans and future players the rich traditions that come with playing in the National Hockey League," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting.
The draft provides hockey fans an opportunity to witness the official start for many of the League's future stars. The Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid with the No. 1 pick at the 2015 draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Other past No. 1 selections include Alex Ovechkin (Washington, 2004), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh, 2005), Erik Johnson (St. Louis, 2006), Patrick Kane (Chicago, 2007), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay, 2008), John Tavares (NY Islanders, 2009), Taylor Hall (Edmonton, 2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins(Edmonton, 2011), Nail Yakupov (Edmonton, 2012), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado, 2013) and Aaron Ekblad (Florida, 2014).
The projected top choice at the 2017 draft could be center Nolan Patrick of Brandon in the Western Hockey League. Patrick, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, is considered a power forward with two-way ability and good speed. The Winnipeg native, in his second full season with the Wheat Kings, leads Brandon with 65 points and eight power-play goals. He is tied for the team lead with 26 goals in 54 games.
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