Hischier: making a case for #1!
It seemed all so clear last summer. Nolan Patrick was the unanimous choice for the #1 pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. But due to different factors, the consensus is dissolving among scouts and hockey expert.
Patrick, the big center from the Brandon Wheat Kings, as been injured a few times in the last few season and as been operated last summer. Although he has always been a top choice caliber player whenever in the lineup, it raises questionability on his durability. He has missed the last WJC and while gone, others have been raising their game and boosting their draft status.
One of those players who benefited from the extra spotlight is Nico Hischier from the Halifax Moose Heads. Hischier already had the hockey world talking about him has a player who could climb the draft ranking with a solid start to the season, exceeding expectation as far as his development was concerned. But where he showcased himself as a top draft candidate was at the WJC, playing for his native Switzerland.
He scored 4 goals and 7 points in 5 games in the tournament and got his moment of fame in the elimination game against the Champion US Team with a mesmerizing 2-goals performance. He almost tied the game in the last moments but was absolutely robbed by Tyler Parsons in the last moments of the game.
In that game, Hischier really turned some heads and got scouts wondering. If he could pull such great performances playing for a weaker team as an 18yo. What is the ceiling for his potential as a future NHL player?
On a personal level, I’ve seen Hischier play a few times this season and I really like his game. The first time I assisted one of his game at the beginning of the season, his skills and explosion were standing out. He made an amazing shorthanded goal where he went end-to-end and displayed top-tier speed, skill and finishing abilities.
But as I continued following his game and progression this season, it became apparent to me that he is more than just a one-dimensional player. He is an excellent two-way center who gets involved defensively. That is a major factor that makes him very appealing for NHL team in my opinion. He is a player that, not only, can be relied on in every situation, but also, be an offensive threat at all times for his team.
It is said to be an open draft this season due to the lack of Superstar status players eligible. It allegedly won’t be nearly as strong as previous years, where players such as Austin Matthews, Patrick Laine and Connor McDavid have had a fast and massive impact on the league right from the get go. There is Nolan Patrick who is said to still be the favorite but talks about Nico Hischier, Timothy Liljegren and Owen Tippett have been heard in the hockey world as potential #1 candidates.
Considering that Nolan Patrick wont go number one, Liljegren is considered to be the best defenseman in the draft and second overall in the rankings but health issues have been hurting his performances this season. He is still considered to be the best available defenseman but it is often unpopular to draft a D-man first overall, especially if he is not a unanimous pick like Ekblad was for example.
As far as Tippett goes, just like Hischier, he has been putting doubts in some scout’s head with an outstanding season so far in Mississauga. A nasty shot and an incredible explosion make him an attractive possibility for teams looking for an exciting offensive player. In my opinion, he is uni-dimensional but that is the wonderful thing about scouting and projection. Everyone has a different vision and Tippett might very be a perfect fit in the eyes of an organisation looking for an high-octane marketable player.
In conclusion, Nolan Patrick should be the one picked first in the next NHL Entry draft but factors are in place to have a sleeper pick that might shock the hockey community. If I was responsible of choosing that pick, I would take a good look at Nico Hischier because in those said-to-be weak draft years, often it is not the one that everyone is looking at that will have the best NHL career. With an excellent progression pace since his Junior Hockey debut and elite performances for both his Halifax and National team; only time will tell how far can this Swiss born player can push his potential in the next few years.
Nico Hischier : http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=191825
Nolan Patrick : http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=172189
Owen Tippett : http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=180592
Timothy Liljegren : http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=191378