UPDATE: Nico Hischier is set to serve as Captain of Team Orr on Monday night in Quebec City in the annual CHL/NHL Top Prospects game. He is now the second in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of North American skaters. The Halifax Mooseheads rookie sits fourth in the QMJHL scoring race with 67 points in 39 games played. He is only four points behind teammate Max Fortier and Rimouski’s Tyler Boland for the league lead. Hischier has been worth the price of admission for fans of the team this season and the world is taking notice. As you can see in the chart below, the Swiss star has increased his points per game totals and is even with Nathan MacKinnon for point production in his draft eligible season.
Original post: 11/17/2016
As I sat high above in the Pat Connolly press box reflecting on an excellent weekend from Nico Hischier I started to wonder how his hot start compares with other great players that have come through Moose Country on their way to the National Hockey League.
The Mooseheads top pick in June’s CHL Import Draft is quickly making a name for himself as a must-see player for hockey fans across the league after scoring 34 points in his first 21 games in the Q.
(Below: Player progress through first 21 games of their draft eligible season)
|Jonathan Drouin||2012-13||15||27||42||2.00||3rd Overall (TB)|
|Nathan MacKinnon||2012-13||19||16||35||1.67||1st Overall (COL)|
|Alex Tanguay||1997-98||18||14||32||1.52||12th Overall (COL)|
|Jakub Voracek||2006-07||13||18||31||1.48||7th Overall (CLB)|
|Nikolaj Ehlers||2013-14||10||18||28||1.33||9th Overall (WIN)|
|Timo Meier||2014-15||9||14||23||1.10||9th Overall (SJ)|
(UPDATE: through 39 games)
When you look at the list above it’s important to recognize that Hischier, Voracek and Ehlers were the only rookies of the bunch in their draft eligible seasons. Yes they were 17-years-old but adjusting to a different league on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean can’t be an easy task which to me is all that more impressive.
While the point totals are what will pop off the page for most people, scouts are just as excited about Nico’s two-way style of play that might make him one of the most intriguing prospects for the 2017 NHL Draft. He is far from a one-dimensional player given his backchecking abilities and solid penalty killing. After all, his favourite player is Pavel Datsyuk.
I’ve bounced this off some of the scouts around the rink to which they agreed on the condition of anonymity.
“There is not one part of Nico’s game that is a deficiency. He’s arguably the Mooseheads best offensive and defensive forward. For me he is a sure-fire top 10 pick,” one said.
“I get the impression that there’s some very solid leadership skills there. You can see it in the way he plays the game, the confidence the coaches have in him and the way he conducts himself.”
It’s probably tough to compare Hischier to the likes of a Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin on this list, who were both high-level players on a team stacked with talent that dominated the league on a nightly basis.
“With Nathan you would be hard pressed to find a junior player with as much explosive power and speed. He also had the uncanny ability to raise his game during all the big moments, look no further than the Memorial Cup for proof on that.”
Drouin, the top scorer on this list captivated the fan base with his vision and playmaking. Another scout said he was like no other.
“Drouin was arguably the greatest playmaker ever to wear a Mooseheads uniform. Jonathan’s ability to see the ice was off the charts. He and Nathan were a perfect fit for each other.”
Hischier’s team is much different than the Memorial Cup winning Mooseheads who lost only six times in the regular season to which MacKinnon and Drouin were stars. This year’s young team is just getting started on the climb back up the ladder to QMJHL contender status. And it might take a while yet.
As we continue to go down the list of former first round picks that were worth the price of admission we come to Nikolaj Ehlers. Another great Euro selection by General Manager Cam Russell that had mesmerizing talent.
“Dynamic speed is a word that comes to mind with Ehlers. He’s one of the few players in any league that can go just as fast side to side as he can up and down the ice. Remarkable.”
So far these are all great players but not someone I can compare to Hischier.
Timo Meier comes from the same country as Nico but the similarities end there. Completely different body types and different styles. One scout agreed.
“For sure. Timo was a bull. A north-south player with a heavy shot. Strong on the puck.”
That leaves us with Jakub Voracek and Alex Tanguay, two players from this franchise that he might be closest to resembling. Voracek in particular. Both were Euro rookies and immediately came to the forefront as a leader on their respective teams.
“Jakub had an instant impact when he arrived, much like Nico. They both see the ice extremely well and are great off the rush.”
Tanguay, a star from the Herd’s early days went on to a long and successful NHL career which included a Stanley Cup win in Colorado.
Hischier’s elite talent has helped his line with Maxime Fortier and Connor Moynihan become one of the most lethal combinations in the league. Moynihan’s confidence level is at an all-time high and he has evolved into a true power forward. Fortier, out to prove that he should have been drafted by an NHL club last summer, is now the QMJHL’s leading scorer.
It’s fun to compare but in the end Hischier is his own player. He’s a unique talent and someone that is bringing excitement back to Scotiabank Centre on a nightly basis. So sit back and enjoy the show Moose fans.