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Wheat Kings land Patrick after draft day deal

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He'd like to follow in some of his father's footsteps and now that's going to be a little easier for Nolan Patrick after Thursday's WHL Bantam Draft.

Patrick, the 14-year-old right-winger of the Winnipeg Hawks and already being talked about in power-forward terms, was the fourth pick overall by the Wheat Kings on Thursday.

"It means a lot more if I play where he played junior," said the son of former NHLer and former Wheat Kings forward Steve Patrick. "It would be cool to follow in those footsteps."

Patrick, Oakbank's Brett Howden, who went fifth overall to the Moose Jaw Warriors, and the Wheat Kings were all Manitoba headlines at the annual draft, held in Calgary.

After the Vancouver Giants took high-scoring forward Tyler Benson of Edmonton first overall, a game of intrigue was on.

The Patricks were hoping Brandon could be in the cards but there was the matter of the Regina Pats, who won the WHL's draft lottery and moved ahead of the Wheat Kings, and the Prince George Cougars ahead of the Wheaties.

Wheat Kings owner and GM Kelly McCrimmon convinced the Pats to pass by sending them Winnipeg forward Geordie Maguire and a third-round pick Thursday.

Regina took forward Sam Steel while Prince George, possibly not wanting to risk another Jonathan Toews scenario -- the first pick of the 2003 bantam draft by Tri-City, but he went to University of North Dakota -- went elsewhere for defenceman Josh Anderson of B.C.

"Certain it's huge... to have the option," Steve Patrick told the Free Press on Thursday about his son's selection by Brandon. "These kids are only 14, 15 and they have a lot of growing and developing to do before they make the decision to play.

"And wherever a kid plays, as long as he's having fun, that really helps the development. And in a situation with a team where there's good development, they will have fun.

"One of the things you have to remember is that a lot of these kids are only in Grade 9; there is a lot of growing and maturing still to do."

Fun was certainly part of Nolan Patrick's 2012-13 season, once he got past an injury early in the year. He scored 75 points in just 19 games this season with the Winnipeg Hawks of the AAA Bantam Hockey League Division 1.

"It was tough coming back but I was training hard and I tried to come back in better shape and work as hard as I could," Nolan said. "The points? Not really too much (of a surprise). I couldn't have done any of that without the good players I played with and great coaching (by Neil Chow)."

Nolan's immediate hockey plans aren't set, his father said, and could include Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota or the Manitoba midget league.

Until it's decided, training five days a week and fishing on the weekend is the plan for the summer ahead, Nolan said.

Two picks after Patrick, the Wheat Kings swung another deal, moving 19-year-old goalie Corbin Boes plus their pick later in the first round (17th) to Lethbridge to move up to the sixth spot, where they grabbed highly touted defenceman Kale Clague of the Lloydminster Heat. Clague set an Alberta scoring record for defencemen this season with 77 points in 33 games.

In between came Brett Howden, who follows his older brother Quinton's footsteps to Moose Jaw.

"It's one of my best days so far," said Brett, the fifth overall choice on Thursday. "It's just been an overwhelming day for everything. I'm super excited to be part of the Warriors club, and just being drafted."

Brett, now 15, played in the Manitoba AAA midget league last season for the Eastman Selects.

"Just because I thought I could challenge myself, handle that league and make myself a better player," he said. "I gave it a shot and I think I was ready for it."

Brett had 24 points in 30 games making the jump and said his brother, who played 18 games this season for the NHL's Florida Panthers, has been a big influence.

"He's a huge part of this," Brett said. "Really, the reason where I am today. He's been helping me, guiding me all the way and I can't thank him enough."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2013 C6

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