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NHL Draft 2017: Report indicates Devils might want Cale Makar, not Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick, at No. 1

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That would leave the Flyers their pick of the two centers atop the Draft.

2015 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

CHICAGO — Corey Pronman of ESPN Insider is one of the best NHL Draft experts out there, so when he comes out with his final NHL Mock Draft the day before the big event, it’s worth tuning in for.

And there was a shock in that Mock Draft this morning. According to Pronman, he thinks there is a solid chance that the New Jersey Devils go off the board with the No. 1 overall pick, either trading it or selecting defenseman Cale Makar. Here’s Pronman:

The popular notion for months has been that it is Nolan Patrick vs. Nico Hischier for this spot. But in the past few weeks, it has been indicated to me from several NHL sources that the Devils are leaning toward selecting Makar first overall. Moreover, GM Ray Shero has been following Makar around to get a closer look during the final weeks of his season. It's possible if Makar is the Devils' guy, this is a trade-down scenario for them.

He also opens his piece with his methodology, noting that it’s not his personal thoughts on the prospects but that it’s based off of conversations with scouts and front office types.

To reiterate, this is not my preference and ranking of various prospects. In fact, my opinion differs substantially on several players listed here. Rather, this is simply what I believe will happen Friday based on discussions with scouts and executives all season.

He’s saying this is the most likely result in his mind, and that should carry weight. Pronman is not one to just throw this stuff against the wall. And, well, personally, I’d be pretty happy if the Devils were to mess this up. Makar seems like a good prospect, but he’s really rocketed up the draft boards in the last month or two and it goes against everything that people have been thinking about this draft for years now. That tends to be dangerous, because it is often the result of overthinking things late in the process.

For all of the talk about Nico vs. Nolan, for example, does anybody really believe that Ron Hextall or Ray Shero or any of the general managers and scouting departments in the league don’t already have a preference? They have probably had a strong idea for months now. But late in the game, a change like this? Smells funny.

We’ll see if it comes to fruition on Friday night, or if the Devils even keep the pick should they truly want Makar over Nico or Nolan. For what it’s worth, Pronman’s mock has Nico going to the Flyers at No. 2 given that they would have the chance to make their pick of the two.