The Colorado Avalanche might select center Nico Hischier with a top-two selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. He could jolt the team.
As the Buffalo Sabres could tell the Colorado Avalanche, having the worst record in the NHL doesn’t guarantee the first-overall pick. Though the Avalanche have a just over 17.5% chance of winning that pick, they could fall as far as #4.
Swiss-born center Nico Hischier is unlikely to fall as far as #4. Indeed, some sites have scouted him to usurp Nolan Patrick for the first-overall spot. That said, most scouts put him solidly to go second overall.
There’s a reason Hischier has been in danger of overturning Patrick as the premier prospect, and that could prove good for the Colorado Avalanche.
2016-17 Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: January 4, 1999 (18 years old)
Wt: 174 lbs
Center Nico Hischier is comfortable in all kind of situations. He has excelled on the large ice in Europe, having played both pro hockey and IIHF. He came over to North America last year to play for the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads (Nathan MacKinnon‘s major junior team). He did very well, earning 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games.
Hockey scouts have been watching Hischier with keen interest. Mike Morreale of NHL.com praised Nico’s “scoring touch and underrated edge to his game.” European players often have soft hands and great skating, but I find it interesting Morreale mentions Hischier’s edge.
Dennis Schellenberg of Hockey Prospectus talks more about Nico’s stickhandling, pointing out he “can distribute pucks with great accuracy and awareness.” He continues:
"“He likes to have the puck on his stick and is a poised puck carrier, can make plays no one expects and make line mates better in any of his shifts. “"
It’s a boon that Hischier can improve his linemates.
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Schellenberg adds that Nico’s “excellent lateral agility is special with which he can beat several opponents while standing almost still. Can escape the corner with ease.” That sounds like an exceptionally dynamic skater.
In fact, that’s exactly how ISS Hockey describes his skating, adding, “Good speed, but it is his quickness & shiftiness that separates him.”
Future Considerations agrees with that assessment of his skating: “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.”
The site also makes mention of Nico Hischier’s grittiness:
"“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.”"
However, several sites also note Nico Hischier’s poise. Future Considerations mentions that specifically. However, NHL.com also notes that Nico is “staying humble” in the face of all the press he’s receiving as a top draft prospect.
Here’s Nico Hischier in action:
Nico Hischier and the Colorado Avalanche
The young, Swiss-born center seems like an excellent fit for the Colorado Avalanche’s new mold, which prizes speed and skill. He is so much fun to watch in action.
We’ve seen what Swiss-trained forward Sven Andrighetto can do for the Colorado Avalanche. Imagine watching a higher-caliber player like Nico Hischier in action.
Hischier is poised to break records in this year’s NHL draft for going highest in the draft as a Swiss-born player.
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Considering Nico’s size and skill set, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Colorado Avalanche select him even if they won the first-overall pick. It would just be a question of whether he could transition immediately into NHL play.