CHICAGO -- On Friday night, the New Jersey Devils will announce the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft for the first time in franchise history.
If Devils general manager Ray Shero knows which player he will select, he is hiding it well.
"There's some good options and good players to choose from," Shero recently said to the team's official website. "I wish we had picks one, two, three, four and five. They're all great kids and great players, and we know we'll get a good one."
But which one?
Centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier have emerged as the most likely options to go No. 1 when the first round gets underway at the United Center near downtown Chicago. Both prospects are skilled playmakers who could infuse the team with much-needed youth.
Patrick, 18, is the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings in Canada's Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 199-pound Winnipeg native notched 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games last season. His father, Steve Patrick, played 250 games with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques in the 1980s.
Hischier, 18, is from Switzerland and spent last season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He racked up 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games.
Neither Patrick nor Hischier knows whether he will be the No. 1 pick.
"No idea, no idea," Patrick told the Winnipeg Free Press earlier this week. "It'd be an honor (to go first overall), but at the end of the day I don't care if I go one, two, three, four. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just excited to get drafted and have a chance to try out for an NHL team."
The Philadelphia Flyers own the No. 2 pick and are expected to select whichever top prospect the Devils bypass. The Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks round out the top five selections.
Meanwhile, picks Nos. 6-10 belong to the first-year Vegas Golden Knights, Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers.
After Patrick and Hischier, the top-ranked forwards from North American amateur clubs include Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School center Casey Mittelstadt, center Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor, Ontario Hockey League) and center Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City, WHL). The top European club players are left winger Klim Kostin (Russia), center Elias Pettersson (Sweden) and center Lias Andersson (Sweden).
The top-ranked North American defenseman is Cole Makar from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Miro Heiskanen of Finland is the No. 1 European blue-liner on the NHL's draft prospect rankings.
As for goaltenders, Boston University standout Jake Oettinger is ranked No. 1 on the NHL's list of North Americans. The top-ranked European goaltender is Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen of Finland.
Dallas, which holds the No. 3 pick, is willing to listen to trade offers from teams that want to move up. However, the price tag could be steep and include one or more proven veterans.
"It's all part of the discussion," Stars general manager Jim Nill told the Dallas Morning News. "I understand it's a valuable asset, and that's why I'm prepared to move it. But it has to be for something that really helps us right now."
The draft will conclude with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.