Jonathan Drouin

Devils take Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick with first pick

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The New Jersey Devils made Nico Hischier the first pick of the 2017 NHL Draft instead of Nolan Patrick.

Hischier becomes the first Swiss-born player to get selected with the top pick (Nino Niederreiter previously held the mark at fifth overall in 2010). His stock skyrocketed after a strong 2016-17; Hischier generated 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads.

He likely made some serious waves with his dominant play for Switzerland during the World Juniors, too.

Hischier figures to bring some electric play to the Devils lineup, as the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy’s draft profile can attest.

“Hischier’s skill, hockey IQ and quickness all make him hard to handle in the offensive zone, much like a former Halifax star: Jonathan Drouin.”

We shall see if the Philadelphia Flyers go with Patrick as the second pick or if a surprise comes.

More from Hischier below:

Report: Habs offering pending UFA Radulov a three-year deal

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The Montreal Canadiens and pending unrestricted free agent Alexander Radulov are still working toward a new deal, but it sounds like they’re pretty far apart.

Radulov has reportedly asked the Canadiens for a six-year deal worth $7 million per season, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

On Friday morning, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels reported that the Canadiens aren’t exactly on the same page as Radulov’s camp.

Per Engels, Marc Bergevin’s longest offer to Radulov has been three years, which doesn’t sound like it’s going to get the job done at this point.

The 30-year-old Russian winger (he’ll turn 31 next week) was one of Montreal’s most consistent forwards in 2016-17. He scored 18 goals an 54 points in 76 games in his first season with the Canadiens.

Even though the Habs were able to land Jonathan Drouin in a trade with the Bolts, they could still use Radulov’s offense going into next season.

During a press conference on Thursday, Bergevin mentioned the possibility of trading Radulov’s rights away before he hits the open market on July 1st.

It sounds like this negotiation will come down to the wire.

Habs ‘have holes in many positions,’ and Bergevin’s busy trying to fill them

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Consider, for a moment, what’s currently on the plate of Montreal GM Marc Bergevin.

Last year’s second-leading scorer, Alex Radulov, is an unrestricted free agent that might go to market. Trade calls are coming in on Alex Galchenyuk, who also needs a new contract. The Habs would like to keep Andrei Markov, but he’s a UFA as well. There’s still no clear answer as to who the team’s No. 1 center will be next year, or what the defense will look like.

Needless to say, Bergevin has lots of balls in the air.

“We have holes at many positions,” he said Thursday. “I don’t think many teams could walk in and say, ‘We’re all set, we’re not taking calls.’

“We’ll try to address those needs. But it’s not easy. People who have good assets, they usually keep them. It has to be a match, put it this way.”

The center position, one that’s long been an issue in Montreal, remains in flux. Bergevin said he was unsure if Jonathan Drouin could play the middle, which has been an ongoing debate with Galchenyuk over the last few years. Tomas Plekanec and Philip Danault remain on the roster, but neither are No. 1 caliber.

Given that pressing need down the middle, Bergevin might need to allocate some cap space for a solution. And if that’s the case, it could hamper his ability to re-sign Radulov, who’s rumored to be angling for a big payday.

“We have limits, we have price,” Bergevin said of Radulov. “He’s got the right to test the market, if that’s what he decides.”

In addressing Radulov, Bergevin added he’d like to retain the services of Markov, who’s 38 and coming off a deal that paid $5.75 million annually. The Habs GM said there hasn’t been much in the way of negotiations with the veteran Russian rearguard, though.

On top of all this — oh yes, there’s more — is the looming contract extension for Carey Price. The star goalie is heading into the last year of his deal and eligible to sign an extension on July 1, which promises to be a monster contract. Price is currently the NHL’s fifth highest-paid netminder at $7 million per, but could join Sergei Bobrovsky and Henrik Lundqvist as the only goalies to earn more than $8M annually.

But before that happens, Bergevin needs to upgrade the players in front of Price.

“I need help everywhere,,” he said. “It’s not that easy.”

NHL announces 2017-18 regular season schedule

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The NHL released next year’s schedule on Thursday — one that cemented the league wouldn’t be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Games are scheduled right through the Olympic window, which runs from Feb. 9-25. You can view the entire schedule here.

Some dates of note:

• The Penguins will raise their Stanley Cup banner on opening night, Oct. 4, prior to their home date against the Blues.

• The league’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, will play their first game on Oct. 6 in Dallas, and their first home game on Oct. 10 against the Coyotes.

• Detroit will play its first game in Little Caesar’s Arena on Oct. 5, against the Wild.

• Ottawa and Colorado will play a pair of games in Stockholm, Sweden on Nov. 10 and 11.

• Ottawa and Montreal will play the Scotiabank NHL100 Classic outdoors, at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, on Dec. 16.

• The Rangers and Sabres will participate in the annual Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Citi Field.

• From Jan. 26-29, Tampa Bay will host the NHL All-Star weekend.

• On Mar. 3, Washington will host Toronto in an outdoor game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.

Marc-Andre Fleury, now a Golden Knight, will make his return to Pittsburgh on Feb. 6.

Jonathan Drouin, now a Montreal Canadien, will make his return to Tampa Bay on Dec. 28.

Jordan Eberle, now a New York Islander, will make his return to Edmonton on Mar. 8.

NHL Draft profile — Nico Hischier

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Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

And, for the second year in a row, we’re featuring special guest analysis from Ryan Kennedy, associate senior writer and prospect expert at The Hockey News.

Nico Hischier (C)

Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 179 pounds Shoots: Left

Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Country: Switzerland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 North American skater

Kennedy says: “If you just saw Hischier at the World Junior Championship, you’d still be impressed (he almost beat Team USA in the quarterfinal by himself), but he also had an excellent year in the QMJHL. The Swiss import took a very young Mooseheads team onto his shoulders and spirited them into the playoffs, where they gave heavy favorites Rouyn-Noranda all the Huskies could handle.

“Hischier’s skill, hockey IQ and quickness all make him hard to handle in the offensive zone, much like a former Halifax star: Jonathan Drouin.

“The most exciting part about Hischier is that his ascent has been so rapid. Could he work his way into an NHL lineup straight from the draft? Well, considering he does nothing but exceed expectations, why not?”

Related: Hischier not caught up in ‘Nico vs. Nolan’ hype

For the rest of the 2017 NHL Draft profiles, click here