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Hischier: The Double-Drafted Devil I STAN SPECIAL

Hischier was drafted twice in his life, once in the NHL and once for the Swiss Army

by Stan Fischler NJDevils / Special to NewJerseyDevils.com

Nico Hischier was chosen first overall by the Devils in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft.
 
If he thought that would be the only time he'd be drafted, the young center was sadly mistaken.
 
Just two years later the extremely gifted forward was drafted a second time - only in 2019 it was the Swiss Army that chose him, among other pro athletes native to the Alpine nation.
 
This was during the 2019-20 pandemic-shortened campaign when Hischier was ordered home to complete his mandatory military service.

"It's a common practice in many European countries and one that even NHLers are compelled to attend," wrote Ryan Kennedy in The Hockey News.
 
Hischier, who was fast becoming a leader on the ice, learned more leadership skills wearing the Swiss khaki. Nor did he mind it a bit since the NHL was on COVID-19 furlough.
 
"We didn't do much military stuff," Nico told Kennedy, "but for us it was almost more of a (life-reviving techniques) training camp."
 
That's all in Hischier's rear view mirror. Now, on the very edge of being a "veteran," the Devils prodigy can reflect on that draft day four years ago and have a good schmooze about it with Jack Hughes, another Devils first-overall pick; this one in 2019.
 
Both catapulted from the draft stage right up to The Show, cementing New Jersey's longtime future at the center position. Along the way, they've both been challenged by adversity and emerged all the better for the experience.
 
"Jack is an unbelievable player," Hischier insisted. "There are a lot of eyes on him and that doesn't make things easy."
 
For the Swiss-Can't-Miss-Kid, the sky will be the limit following his injury-plagued season. The Devils need their prodigy to produce big-time and all hands agree on that, especially general manager Tom Fitzgerald.
 
"Nico is mature and doesn't cheat," Fitz explained. "He has pride in his game and understands how to play away from the puck. Plus, he does all the small things well. His game is extremely thorough."
 
In plucking Hischier first overall, the Devils bypassed: Nolan Patrick (2), Philadelphia; Miro Heiskanen (3), Dallas, Cale Makar (4), Colorado, and Elias Pettersson (5), Vancouver, among the top quintet.
 
A year earlier, previous GM Ray Shero had obtained two Canadian products, center Michael McLeod, 12th overall, and right wing Nathan Bastian, 41st, among other picks.
 
What made the American-born Hughes so special was the fact that he was the first U.S. Training Development Program graduate able to make the leap straight to The Show.
 
"Having Hughes and Hischier makes the Devils' rebuild easier," observed Kennedy. "What should be most exciting to Devils fans is the potential of both players.

"Also, there's the fact that there's enough variation of skill sets between the two that the team will have a devastating`1-2 punch down the middle in the coming years." 

Meanwhile, the general manager who oversees their respective games can only enthuse over the Nico and Jack act.

"Considering their respective games," Fitzgerald concluded, "they'll help each other maximize their individual abilities."

Hischier should be especially happy. Now that he has finished his Swiss military stint, he won't have to worry about being drafted a third time!

Photo credit: Alessandro Della Valle

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