Nico Hischier will most likely start his NHL career by becoming the highest drafted Swiss player in history. He is expected to be a top three selection, and would best the fifth overall previously held by Nico Niederreiter in 2010.
Hischier has been in the spotlight the last two seasons, performing very well at the last two World Junior championships. Last year, as a 16-year-old, he put up two assists in Switzerland’s six games. This year, as a 17-year-old, he took it to another level and raised his draft stock in the process.
Place of Birth: Naters, Switzerland
Height: 6’0" Weight: 179 lbs
Hischier had four goals and three assists in five games in the tournament as a draft eligible player, and that doesn’t include the two-goal performance he had against Canada in pre-tournament play.
In his first season the QMJHL, with the Halifax Mooseheads, he was dominant. He was in the top 10 of all players in the league in points and points per game, and absolutely dominated among players his age. He had a 0.40 points per game edge on any other draft eligible player in the league.
He has drawn comparisons to another European player to go to Halifax, Nikolaj Ehlers, and while Hischier doesn’t have the speed of Ehlers, he also put up his numbers on a team that was nowhere near as stacked. Ehlers played with guys like Jonathan Drouin and Timo Meier. Hischier had no such help.
Hischier has risen due to his great season. He entered the season as a consensus top-five or top-10 pick, but rose above the competition and is now mentioned in the same breath as Nolan Patrick, the draft’s top prospect. His adjustment to the North American game erased any doubts a team would have about taking him.
In some ways, it reminds you of the Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin debate. Hall entered the season as the far-and-away top prospect, and Seguin rose into the top pick conversation.
With Patrick’s injury issues, Hischier has even taken the top spot on some draft rankings, and the two look like they will have great NHL careers.
Hischier’s best attribute is his skating. He can pull away from defenders, and he could use his skill to beat defenders, even when he seems to pinned against the boards. He also has great playmaking and vision, and is one of the few players in this draft who could immediately help an NHL team.
“Hischier is a highly creative and impactful center who ran the top-line and power play unit in Halifax. Has the high level of awareness and IQ that allows him to find space despite drawing tough assignments and being constantly shadowed. Strong puck handling skills, very good skater and agile. Can dominate when he wants. Vision and playmaking are also elite. He projects as a top prospect and potential to become an NHL offensive superstar.”
Rankings (note: these are not all final rankings):
Future Considerations: 2
NHL Central Scouting (North American Skaters): 2
Corey Pronman: 1
Hischier, barring a huge trade, won’t be a Montreal Canadien. He won’t make it past the second pick in the draft barring a surprise.
I am not sure that he is better than Nolan Patrick, but I do know that Hischier will be a top-end NHL talent. When you watch him on the ice, it is clear what he can bring to the game.
If a team is concerned with Patrick’s injury issues, I wouldn’t have a problem taking Hischier first overall. This draft doesn’t have a generational talent, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t have potential superstars.
With the top two teams selecting in the Draft in the Eastern Conference, you can expect to see a lot of Hischier going forward.
All statistics courtesy Prospect-Stats.com