The presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is close to a return to game action.
Nolan Patrick, the Brandon Wheat King centre, has targeted Friday to play games for the WHL team.
"That's the plan," Wheat King GM Grant Armstrong said. "Today will be his first (cleared for) contact practice, so he'll practice full up this week and he aims to play Friday so long as the rest of the week goes well."
Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery in the off-season. He played the first six games of the WHL season -- posting four goals and nine points -- but had to shut it down when his other groin started to bother him. He's not played a game since Oct. 11.
Since then, he's undergone a regimen of rest, treatment and rehab, finally feeling well enough now to schedule a return to game action, as long as a few days of contact practice don't cause any issues.
Patrick was the unanimous No. 1 prospect on TSN's Pre-Season Top 10 NHL Draft Rankings in September and the top prospect in this month's edition of Craig Button's NHL Draft ranking.
The Wheat Kings are scheduled to play host to Kootenay on Friday and Saturday in Brandon.