CHICAGO — Ron Hextall had no idea which way New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was leaning.
Would Shero take Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with his No. 1 pick?
"I asked Ray 10 minutes before he picked and he wouldn't tell me," Hextall said. "I give him credit. That is what he should have done … I didn't have an expectation one way or the other."
Shero wanted a dynamic player to put bodies in the stands at Prudential Center. He chose Hischier.
That made it easy for Hextall at No. 2 to select Patrick (see story).
If rumors were true that Shero was scared off by Patrick's several injuries this past season at Brandon, well, the Flyers weren't.
"What I believe, we gather a lot of information," Hextall said. "There's some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We're comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man."
Patrick is a two-way player and a natural center. The Flyers have seven centers right now (see story), including Patrick, who is expected to play now.
Hextall said he doesn't envision switching Patrick to the wing.
"I would rather have too many centers rather than five wingers on each side and no one to go in the middle," Hextall said.
Interesting that German Rubtsov, last year's top pick for the Flyers, has already been converted to a left winger since coming to North America to play junior.
Will Patrick be a No. 1 center as scouts project?
"Nolan has to answer that," Hextall said. "We see a kid with a big body, extremely high hockey sense, really good skill set. You get drafted today? The work starts now and Nolan has to put the work in.
"This is another level … this is the National Hockey League. In September, he comes to camp. He needs a big summer."