NASHVILLE — It’s widely expected that, when the 2017 NHL Entry Draft begins on June 23, it will either be Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick taken with the first overall selection.
Seven years later, the “Nico or Nolan” hype is well underway.
Just one catch. The former isn’t much for it.
“No,” Hischier said, when asked if him and Patrick have discussed who would go first overall. “He would be happy for me, I would be happy for him.”
It’s easy to see how Patrick and Hischier have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. Despite an injury-plagued campaign for WHL Brandon, Patrick had a strong offensive campaign (46 points in 33 games), plays center, and has good size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds.
Hischier also posted solid numbers for QMJHL Halifax (86 points in 57 games), also plays down the middle and is the same height as Patrick, though roughly 15-20 pounds lighter.
Patrick and Hischier spent most of the year at No. 1 and 2 on NHL Central Scouting’s draft rankings, and finished that way as well.
While both would undoubtedly like to go first overall, the honor would hold more significance for Hischier. He’d become the highest drafted Swiss player in NHL history and the first to go No. 1, surpassing Nino Niederreiter — who, ironically enough, went fifth overall at the aforementioned Taylor vs. Tyler draft.
“It would be pretty good,” Hischier said, when asked what going first would mean for Swiss hockey. “For me, it would be an honor for sure. It’d make me proud. Swiss hockey is getting better every year. They do a good job to develop young players.”
The x-factor in all of this, of course, is who will be picking first and second overall.
Right now, the New Jersey Devils are at No. 1 and the Flyers at No. 2, but there’s been rumblings those picks — along with Dallas at No. 3 — could all be in play.