ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Nico Hischier is the No. 2-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth overall selection at the draft.
When going over potential prospects for this year's draft, it's hard not to gawk over the 6-foot-1 and 176-pound point-scoring machine that is Nico Hischier. The Switzerland native has put up outstanding numbers in every league he has played in. Couple that with his natural hockey abilities and a great sense of the game, and you have yourself a very sought after young man.
Hischier grew into the player he is today by playing in the SC Bern system in his home country, where he immediately began to make a name for himself by dominating the under-17 club and quickly being pushed up to the under-20 team.
He tallied 28 points (11 goals and 17 assists) in 18 regular-season games in 2015-16 for the junior club, as the forward led the squad to an Elite Junior A title with nine playoff points (one goal and eight assists). Along with the championship under his belt, he led the league in assists during the playoffs.
Throughout that season, the center even spent some time playing with the men for Bern's professional team in Switzerland's top-tier hockey league, National League A (15 games), along with seeing some time with EHC Visp in the second-tier pro league (NLB).
Internationally, Hischier shined playing for the Swiss national team in 2015. He participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he ended the competition with six points (three goals and three assists) in four outings and ultimately finishing third overall in points scored.
Following Hlinka, he competed with the U18 team at the IIHF championship. The 16-year-old left-handed shooter totaled four points (one goal and three assists) in five games played at the World U-18's, but the Swiss could not outlast the Canadians in the quarterfinals.
The 2016-17 season was Hischier's breakout year, as he hopped the pond to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Halifax Mooseheads, who selected him No. 6 overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft.
The native of Naters, Switzerland, had a jaw-dropping 86 points (38 goals and 48 assists) over 57 games during his first season in North America, easily earning him the QMJHL titles of Offensive Rookie of the Year and Rookie of the Year. He added seven more points (three goals and four assists) over the team's six playoff games, where the Mooseheads' season ended in a first-round exit to the defending-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Hischier finished his rookie year as the Mooseheads' leading goal scorer and was second in assists and points for the team, as well as being awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy for the QMJHL's best professional prospect.
"Hischier is definitely worth the price of admission. He has a high-skill level, but what's most impressive is the way he competes, his drive and work ethic," said director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr. "He is a player who is first on the forecheck forcing a turnover and when the play transitions, he's the first player back. He's in that category as a special player."
Video: Altitude profiles Nico Hischier
The 18-year-old didn't stop there, as he participated in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship where he nearly single-handedly took his team to the medal round. He scored both goals for Switzerland in a 3-2 loss in the quarterfinals to the eventual gold-medal winning United States. Hischier finished the tournament with seven points (four goals and three assists) in the team's five outings, leading all draft-eligible players in scoring.
Hischier does a fantastic job of making the right hockey decision when he is on the ice. He uses his size and speed to move the puck into the best place possible to avoid defenders and is very creative when creating offense.
"He plays a complete game, he's not one dimensional," Halifax general manager Cam Russell said to NHL.com "He's got world-class skills, great hands, great vision, but he's also our best defensive player. When you have a player that is your most skilled and basically your best player on the team, and he's also your best defensive player, it provides great leadership for your younger players."
Hischier has star quality written all over him, which is why he is worthy of his No. 2 ranking among North American skaters ahead of the draft. He has shined in every league he has skated in and has plenty more to show the world.
Whichever team that announces his name could have a very special player wearing their sweater.