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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day 3: Nico Hischier got break from Guy Boucher

Halifax center, who played first pro game in Switzerland for Senators coach, has interviewed with Devils, Flyers

by Mike G. Morreale @MikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Halifax center Nico Hischier, No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft, will never forget his first professional game in Switzerland for Bern in National League A in 2015-16.

His coach that season was Guy Boucher, now coach of the Ottawa Senators.

"It was great when they called me up to practice with the first team because I was able to see how they practice in the professional league and what they do when at the rink," Hischier said Wednesday at the NHL Scouting Combine. "Under Guy Boucher, I got to see the Canadian style of practice. I remember when [Boucher] came into the locker room and asked me if I was ready because we had an injured player, and I said, 'Yes.'

"I was nervous, but can remember my first shift."

Hischier (6-foot-1, 176 pounds) has come a long way since playing 15 games for Bern that season. This season, his first in North America, he scored 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games and was named rookie of the year and best professional prospect in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Video: The guys discuss Draft prospects who are on the rise

He's expected to be a top-two pick in the draft, being held June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago, and is in the spotlight at the combine at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter. Hischier already has interviewed with the New Jersey Devils, who hold the No. 1 pick in the draft, and the Philadelphia Flyers, who own the No. 2 pick.

"The Devils didn't [tell me what direction they were headed]," Hischier said. "They said they have interest but are meeting other guys. They like the way I play."

Here are the four intriguing takes from Day 3 at the combine:

 

1. First-round feedback

Would the Vegas Golden Knights, who hold the No. 6 pick in the draft, choose left-handed center Casey Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) of Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota if he's available?

Mittelstadt, No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, interviewed with Vegas on Monday. It was his second of 15 team interviews scheduled for this week.

"It's exciting to see a new team come into the League and watch the NHL expand," Mittelstadt said. "I think it would be really cool to be their first-ever pick; something that I'd be super excited about. Anytime you see the NHL expand, especially to a great market like Vegas, it's definitely exciting."

Video: Sam Cosentino on the Draft and the prospect pool

 

2. Scouts honor

Goran Stubb, NHL director of European scouting, frequently refers to something hockey player agent Don Baizley told him when asked to provide a timetable on how long a top blue-chip European prospect needs to wait to be considered NHL-ready.

"[Baizley] told me that the advice he gave Europeans was to stay at home for a couple of seasons after being drafted," Stubb said. "They should try to make not only the World Junior team but the national team for the World Championship. And then you don't have to go to the farm team, but straight to the NHL."

 

3. Top underrated prospect

Moose Jaw defenseman Josh Brook (6-1, 182), a right-handed shot, set career highs in goals (eight), assists (32), points (40) and rating (plus-17) in his third WHL season (including one game in 2014-15). He has 17 team interviews set for this week at the combine. Ranked No. 49 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, Brook plays with poise and smarts and processes the game in all zones, according to David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting.

 

4. Question of the day

Defenseman Timothy Liljegren of Rogle in Sweden said he was asked in a team interview this week to tell a good joke. 

"I couldn't think of anything," said Liljegren, No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of international skaters. "I had nothing for them. That was a tough one."

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