Heading into the 2016-17 season, I doubt many people have ever heard the name “Nico Hischier” before. He had spent his entire playing career in Switzerland so nobody aside from scouts and people in Switzerland really ever got a chance to see this kid play. But there was one moment early in the season that Nico Hischier introduced himself to the world and it was this goal for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL.
After that moment, he was on everybody’s radar. The kid ended up with 38 goals and 86 points through 57 games in the QMJHL this season. He had a breakout performance against Team USA in the World Juniors quarterfinals. Ended that tournament with 7 points in 5 games against the world’s best young talent. Had a great showing at the CHL Top Prospects game and kept sky-rocketing up the rankings. He went from a relative unknown to start the year to the #2 prospect in the draft pretty much over night and when you see the way this kid moves with the puck on his stick, you can see why.
And now the kid is the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The kid they dubbed the “Swiss McDavid”. Think about that for a second. Nico Hischier. Just a kid from Switzerland. The 1st overall pick in an NHL Draft. Plenty of credit here has to go to guys like Mark Streit, Roman Josi, Nino Niederreiter and even Kevin Fiala. Guys who have built up the Swiss hockey program into a legitimate factory for NHL talent. And they get their payoff now with Hischier going 1 overall.
Now the biggest concern for Nico heading forward is probably the durability of his body. He has decent size but he still has to get stronger over the summer if he’s going to survive a full season in the NHL next year. Good news is that since he was playing with Halifax on loan from his Swiss team, that allows him to be eligible to play in the AHL next year. I know what you’re thinking. How is the #1 overall pick in the draft going to be playing in the A next year? All I’m saying is that this is a much better situation than most former #1 overall picks have ever been in. You can’t send a #1 overall pick back to his junior team. You can’t send a #1 overall pick back to a college team. But if he can take a couple weeks off from the NHL but still play professional hockey within the organization? That’s perfect for development. Obviously we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here but it’s just something to keep in mind.