Our next 2017 NHL Draft prospect is a young Swiss player who has been storming up the draft charts all season, Nico Hischier.
For the previous prospect, Nolan Patrick, click here.
Nico Hischier plays with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. He is a left-shooting center/right wing finishing his first season with the Mooseheads.
Hischier is just about 6’1″ and 175 lbs., and is the #2 overall North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting, but he has jumped over Nolan Patrick in many mock drafts.
Watching Nico Hischier highlights makes it incredibly obvious why he has jumped up the scouting charts this year. He’s fast, creative, has outstanding vision, has great hockey IQ, just as dangerous a passer as he is a scorer. He can play wing and center and his hockey IQ makes him an asset in his own zone, as well. Read what the scouts all say, and you’ll be high on him, too.
Popped big at the WJC and CHL Top Prospects game, but has tailed off slightly. Was injured and since returning has played a slightly different game. Some scouts worry about some of the fatigue he’s shown, but his skills more than compensate.
A smooth-skating, playmaking center…good skating agility and top speed, but is more quick than fast…is able to make quick turns and displays good lateral movement…not big or strong, but still shows willingness to take hits and battle for space…goes into board battles and uses his body to fight for pucks…excellent playmaking instincts, vision and passing skills…puts puck where his linemates can best utilize the chance…an incredible stickhandler who thrives in possession and can make defenders look foolish…competitive and driven…poise is a major standout attribute…dangerous when given time, especially on the power play as he takes full control of the play from the half wall with the puck, using his impressive agility, hands and vision to make plays…plays a responsible defensive game…one of the best talents to come out of Switzerland.
#2 Nico Hischier
Dynamic skater. Good speed, but it is his quickness & shiftiness that separates him.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) March 4, 2017
The best Swiss player in the 2016 World U-18s, graduated to become their best player in the 2017 World U-20. He is a centre-wing with quickness and skill. Has a scorer’s mentality, but displays high passing skills to go along with his elusiveness. Great vision and follow through. He reads the play in both ends and when in control of the puck, he uses his soft hands and stick skills to move the pace of the game. Plays fast. Is great on his edges and his agility lets it appear as if he fazed in from nowhere to control pucks and score. Maybe more importantly, he seems anchored to the ice sheet — unfazed by contact — and plays strong on the puck, continuing through traffic to finish. In a congested crease area, he seems to root around and find the truffle before others realize it’s in the back of the net. He takes the pucks in open areas, reads the ice in front of him, slashes through defenders in the hard areas to the front and lets it fly with an extremely quick deceptive release. Adequate in his own end (positionally strong), but he knows what side his bread is buttered. Not big or edgy, and there is room for growth in both areas, but displays toughness in how he attacks, attacking the box and letting his sneaky wrist shot fly. In a draft class with the early marquee choices injured and the best of the rest seeing their production fall off, why not first over-all? He lacks thickness and can add pounds and muscle.
The “Swiss Can’t Miss” has taken North America by storm in this his rookie QMJHL campaign, being among the league leaders in scoring all season,a fn then his performance at both the Top Prospects Game and WJC’s only cemented his status as a top-two prospect for the draft. His combination of elite skill and hockey sense make him arguably the best two-way forward available. He has top-line upside if he gains the strength needed to face the NHL’s top players.
Should the Avalanche Draft Him?
The answer to this question, of course, will depend on where the Avalanche are actually drafting. Now we all know that the Avalanche have the best odds of receiving the top overall pick, but with the top three picks being part of the lottery it is possible that the Avalanche could select as low as fourth overall. If the Avalanche are anywhere out of the top two, it would be shocking if Hischier were available.
If the Avalanche do get one of the top two picks, I find it very difficult to find a reason not to draft Hischier, even if you have to choose between him and Nolan Patrick. Hischier’s upside is the main reason why I say this. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Patrick isn’t going to be an outstanding player, it just seems that Hischier is the one of the two that has the more high-end skill. It really is a difficult choice between the two and I am leaning Hischier at the moment.